Tag Archives | Act One

What exactly goes into Act I anyway? (And a winner!)

Thanks to everyone who tweeted and blogged and entered the contest – or just showed their support! You’re all awesome!

You’ve seen me break down Act I of a movie and a high concept book. But what exactly will I do for the winner of the Act I crit?

What I want to know:

  • Title
  • Logline
  • Genre (YA or MG or adult) (I have seen a difference in structure between the two!)
  • Estimated number of words
  • What author or book would you compare your writing to?
  • Were you trying for high concept or no?
  • What draft will I read: first draft, revised draft, or polished draft?
  • Give me a brief description of the ending climax.

So many questions might seem silly, but the answers will affect how I critique your first act.


I will look to see if your protagonist:

  • offers the most conflict in that situation,
  • has the longest way to go emotionally, and
  • will appeal to a large demographic.

I will look to see if your main character’s motivations can be narrowed down to what Blake Snyder calls a primal urge – love, survival…etc.

Act I:

Opening Image

Tone, mood, style of your opening line and pages. Was I hooked? Did I care about your protagonist? Was the first chapter relevant to the story?

Theme Stated:

Somewhere in the first half of Act I, I will look for a posed question or offhand remark reflecting what your story is really about. If I can’t see one, I’ll let you know!


Hero, stakes, story goal

Six things that need fixing – problems/flaws. These will be mirrored in the third act, showing the change.


This is the game-changing event when something happens to set the story in motion!


Your main character might know what to do but he/she needs to make sure it’s the right choice. In MG this could be a few paragraphs or half a chapter. A question is asked of the hero and in the end they need to say, yes!

Break into two:

This is the defining moment when your main character leaves the old world behind and gets started on his story goal.

There you have it.

And the winner of the copy of SAVE THE CAT and an Act I critique is…..


(I don’t know about you but I’m going to be going over my own Act I to check for these things too!)

Thanks everyone!

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