Structure: A Simple Plan

Breaking down a large task into workable pieces is not easy for some people. This is the reason many write by the seat of their pants with no thought to the next step. For me, having a plan relieves stress. This post presents a loose plan any writer can use.

Scrivener is used in this post, but you can use any hierarchal filing system and a standard word processor. The plan is based on The Paradigm of Three Act Structure and The 14 Signposts from James Scott Bell’s book, “Super Structure,” but any structuring system can be used.

1. Type out The 14 Signposts. They are pasted below, but I encourage you to re-type them and not copy and paste because the best ideas about your project could occur while you are typing.

The 14 Signposts

Act One

  • The Disturbance (Inciting Incident)
  • The Care Package
  • The Argument Against Transformation
  • Trouble Brewing
  • Doorway of No Return #1 (Plot Point I)

Act Two

  • A Kick in the Shins
  • The Mirror Moment (Midpoint)
  • Pet the Dog
  • Doorway of No Return #2 (Plot Point II)

Act Three

  • Mounting Forces
  • Lights Out
  • The Q Factor
  • Final Battle (Climax)
  • Transformation (Dénouement)


2. Create a Manuscript file in Scrivener

3. Create a Draft folder in the Manuscript (First Draft 2016)

4. Create a Folder for each Act

5. In each Act Folder create a Folder for each Signpost

That’s it. Create a Document for each brainstorm or scene based on or in-between the signposts.

If you are writing for NaNo, when the word count is ready to be authenticated, compile the folders used into your word processor or with Scrivnerings and copy and paste the text into the authenticator. Get daily word counts from the draft folder used. Here’s what my set-up looks like.

Screen Shot from Scrivener


Re-writing for NaNo

Notice the folder titled Rough Draft 2013? That is the original 60,000 word file from Nano 2013. It will not be counted in this year’s NaNo,  but text from it may be used in the new draft by simply dragging and dropping.  Yes, some of the words from the old file will end up in the new word count maybe, but there will not be a sentence unchanged so no guilt there.

The next NaNo 2016 post will show brainstorming signpost scenes in Scapple. It’s like a game! Here’s a peek at the Three Act Structure/Signpost Template I created.

Screen Shot from Scapple


How do you structure?

Let me know in the comments below.

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