Screenwriting Tricks for Authors

Nanowrimo: 10 Key Elements of Act I

Last weekend before Nanowrimo! ! How about a roadmap for your first week? Yesterday I focused on three essential questions to ask yourself about this adventure you and your main character are about to go on. Now let’s expand that. Here are Ten Key Story Elements in a narrative that is the basic flow of ACT I (the first 30 minutes of a movie, the first quarter of a book) —no matter what genre you’re working in

We meet the HERO/INE in their ORDINARY WORLD

They have:

— a GHOST or WOUND or BAGGAGE, something that is haunting them from the past


And an ANTAGONIST, or several, which is standing in the way of them getting what they want, and possibly wants exactly the same thing that they want.

A Big Thing (INCITING INCIDENT) happens: they get a CALL TO ADVENTURE: a phone call, an invitation, a look from a stranger, that invites them to change their life.

That Inciting Incident crystallizes a specific DESIRE, something that they want very badly.

That impulse may be blocked by a

— Threshold Guardian

— And/or the ANTAGONIST

— And/or the character has INTERNAL CONFLICT; they are reluctant to take the journey.

But they overcome whatever opposition,

— Gather ALLIES and maybe the advice of a MENTOR

— Formulate a specific PLAN to get what they want 

— And Cross a significant Threshold (Bridge, Door, Gateway) Into a SPECIAL WORLD that is very different from their Ordinary World, in pursuit of their DESIRE.