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What is the Most Important Part of a Book? Act Three

If you have not read Part One or Two, start here with Part One and then finish Part Two here.

So, we’ve reached the end. Act three.

This act typically ends our journey with the characters we’ve grown to love. It’s a sad goodbye (unless Disney decides to reboot your series for a less than stellar sequel trilogy).

Before we get into the points on why the third act is so good, I must put a stipulation. The third act can only be good if your first two acts did their job. Did you set up a protagonist that people cared for or are interested in enough to care about what happens in the third act? Are there enough hints to your twist ending so that it doesn’t feel random and out of nowhere? And is your antagonist set up as a dangerous conflict to your protagonist? If the answer is no to any of these, you might want to rework some of your first and second act, because if you leave any of these components out, your ending may not end up being as killer as you think it is.

Now, considering all of these things have been checked off, let’s look at why the third act is so good.

There are several reasons, here are three!

1. The first and most obvious thing is that we are given the last big confrontation between the antagonist and protagonist. It’s all built up to this. We finally get the big fight between them. This is generally a pretty awesome and satisfying part of the book. But it can also be shocking. You may not know how the hero will win, but you know they will win. But most of the time at a cost. They generally will lose something dear to them, sometimes not, but generally, you will see the loss of someone or something close to the protagonist. A good example of this is in the movie Super 8 (warning, if you have not seen this movie, major spoilers are to follow). In the movie, Joe has carried a locket that was his Mom’s for the course of most of the movie. It is fairly obvious that he treasures the object and that it reminds him of his mom. At the end of the movie when the alien is building its ship by taking the majority of the metal in Lillian, Ohio. As Joe, Alice, and their fathers watch the metal suck towards the ship. That’s when you see Joe’s locket start heading towards the ship, he grabs it, but the ship still needs it and isn’t complete without it. He lets go of the locket. He had to lose something that was precious to him in order to let the alien leave and therefore winning the movie’s struggle. This is also a great example of character growth, but that’s not what today’s post is about.

2. The second thing is the resolution. The third act concludes things, but the story doesn’t end after the antagonist loses. The story ends only once you have finished the last page or when the screen goes black. That’s when it ends, not before and not after. Do you know those last couple of chapters between the defeat of the protagonist and the end of the book? Those can help decide whether or not you like a book. There was an epic fantasy book that I read a couple of years ago, I won’t mention the name of it because some readers really like it. It was the first of a series and the series has yet to be finished as far as I know. I loved the beginning of this book and the middle. It was so drastically different from anything that I had read to that point. When I arrived at the third act, it went in a completely different direction then what I thought. The character did things that I as a reader did not think he would. I barely even finished it. I just skimmed the last couple of chapters. This really saddened me because I had grown close with the land and the laws and the main character, but the ending was such a disappointment. Now, every time I see a book by that author, I disregard it. So why am I telling you this? Your resolution needs to go along with what you have set up. If not, it disappoints readers like me. Another resolution is key to the third act is because it is the last time you interact with the characters. It’s your goodbye, and this leads to point three.

3. The last thing is the want to spend more time with the characters, also known as a hole. If the book did its job, and especially if it’s a part of a series and is the end of a series, you feel that hole. It’s over. All the time you spent with those characters, it’s over. Their story has been told. This only happens if the author has given a meaningful ending and has tied up all the plots and subplots in their novel. And when you finish, well that’s when you have to find a new book to read.

So why is the third act the most interesting part of a book? Because of the final conflict between the two opposing forces, the resolution, and the end that leaves you wanting more.

So that’s it! Three acts, which is your favorite? Be sure to comment below and let me know and comment anything you have to say relating to Act Three as well! I want to hear what you guys think!

From my pen to your paper, may our swords never clash.


Thanks for reading! If you want to get updates on when new blog posts come out, subscribe to my newsletter, “The Raven,” and be the first to get updates and exclusive updates on my writings! If you want to contribute to the conversation, please comment below! I will try to respond to all comments!


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Categories
On Writing

What is the Most Important Part of a Book? Act Two

This is part two in a three-part series. If you have not read part one, please do so here!

So before this became a three-part series, I had originally planned on doing just one post on why the middle part of the book is so important. But, as I got to thinking I realized that a case could be made for each section of the book. 

But why did I first think of the middle? Well, I had just finished Mistborn: The Final Empire (you can read my review here), and the ending was spectacular. As I thought about the book after I set the book down, I thought to myself “Why was that ending so good?” And the answer is pretty simple. Set-up. 

But why does set-up in the middle effect the way your book ends? We’ve all read that one book where the author was building up to a really great climax and then they suddenly did something completely different then what you thought, but the author didn’t foreshadow any of the ending. The ending still might be good, but it’s not as good as it could have been. Endings like this leave you unsatisfied and sometimes can sour the reader’s experience.

Now what I’m not saying is for you to tell your readers exactly what’s going to happen before it happens. That can also leave a reader unsatisfied as there was no surprise in the ending. 

So what does all of this have to do with the middle part of a book? Well, the second act usually does a good bit of foreshadowing. Now there are some exceptions where the ending is set up in the first act and the second act doesn’t do as much foreshadowing. But typically I feel as if there is a good bit of foreshadowing in the second act. 

Along with foreshadowing, the protagonist is usually given a major source of information or motivation in the middle of the second act. This can come as a backstory reveal, or a character seeing something that fuels the flames of their motivation. 

So the second act is essential in that it drastically sets up a satisfying ending for your readers, along with giving the protagonist motivation. Without foreshadowing or character motivation, your third act can be lackluster and not as enjoyable for the reader, even if it is a great ending!

Next week we’ll conclude the three-part series by exploring the final act of the book and why it’s important.

Please comment below with any additional things you have to say! I learn just as much writing these posts as you guys do, so I can easily miss things!

From my pen to your paper, may our swords never clash.


Thanks for reading! If you want to get updates on when new blog posts come out, subscribe to my newsletter, “The Raven,” and be the first to get updates and exclusive updates on my writings! If you want to contribute to the conversation, please comment below! I will try to respond to all comments!


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Categories
On Writing

What is the Most Important Part of a Book? Act One

What is the most important part of a book? It seems like a simple question, right? Well, it’s not.

I will put a disclaimer before you start reading: the answer will vary from person to person and it can depend on the book.

Books tend to be broken into three acts. Let me break those down for you.

The first act is typically where the main character is shown in their normal capacity. Nothing unusual has happened to them yet. There are hints, but the character is still “normal.” The first act typically ends when the character is forced out of their normal world in a way where they cannot return to life how it was.

The second act is typically a journey, either a physical one, an emotional one, or a spiritual one. The character typically grows and has several run-ins with the antagonistic force, and they typically learn something important. They also think they have won a victory of some sort at the end of the second act, right before the third act starts.

The third act is where all the strings come into place and our protagonist and antagonist have a confrontation. Usually, the protagonist loses at the very beginning and they are typically depressed by this and it takes a new motivation for them to have a renewed energy to battle against the antagonistic force. It’s usually after this that the protagonist faces the antagonist and they usually overcome the antagonist. Then comes the resolution where all the loose threads are tied up or are left untied and teased for a sequel.

Now arguments can be made for any section of the book being more important than others. Today I’m going to argue for the beginning. Next week I’ll make the case for the middle. And then the last article will be an argument for the end.

So why is the beginning the most important part of a book?

Well first, this is the very first thing that your readers will be exposed to. Your beginning is where you hook the readers. This is where they decide if they’re going to finish a book or not. I have a tendency to have to finish every book I start, I guess it’s part of my OCD. But if I find that I’m not going to finish a book, which has only happened a couple of times, I will put it down after Chapter Three or Four. It’s by then that you should be interested enough to finish the book, and if I’m not or I don’t like the plot or where it’s going, I’m going to set it aside and not finish that book.

Second, its where your plot is introduced. By the end of the first act, your readers should have a pretty good idea of the plot. Now, they shouldn’t be able to guess exactly how the book will end, but they should have a good idea of the direction the book is heading.

Third, they need to be introduced to the main characters by the end of the first act, particularly the protagonist. Generally, the reader will keep reading the book if the characters are interesting, but the plot is not. Now, I’m not saying make your plot really boring and your characters really interesting, in fact, please don’t. Make both amazing so that the reader will have a really great experience.

So the most interesting part of a book is the beginning because it is the first thing the readers read, it introduces the plot, and it introduces the characters who you go on to like.

Next week, we’ll look at why the 2nd act is the best part of a book.

From my pen to your paper, may our swords never clash.


Thanks for reading! If you want to get updates on when new blog posts come out, subscribe to my newsletter, “The Raven,” and be the first to get updates and exclusive updates on my writings! If you want to contribute to the conversation, please comment below! I will try to respond to all comments!


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