Last WW: Don’t Let Your Characters Just Stand There
Whether your a planner or a pantser, a story needs to have structure. The first thought that comes to mind is: beginning, middle, end. Sure, a logical story goes in that order. Even one told out of linear progression still, at its heart, has a beginning, middle, and end. However, if you want to go beyond basic, you should really have four parts.
This is where you set your story up. You show what normal life is. It doesn’t have to be a lot, but the reader should be able to get a sense of who the character is so they can care when things change. Which should happen near the end of this section.
About a 1/4 of the way through your story, after things have changed, the protagonist needs to react. Often, their first instinct is wrong. Maybe they refuse? Maybe the run away? Maybe they just make the wrong choice. Whatever the case, this is where they do it. At this point, your characters are on the defensive. But things are about to change.
Near the middle of your story, things begin to change. Perhaps the protagonist has received some desperately needed information or a magical weapon. Maybe they’ve finally found their courage. Whatever the reason, this is the time for your protagonist to fight back. Now is when the story goes on the offensive. It’s near the end of this part that you have the climax of the story.
The climax is over, and everyone is ready to go home. This is the part of the story where you show the resolution. In my personal opinion, I don’t think that this part of the story needs to be as long as the rest. This is just a place to tidy up, show people a peek at happily ever after, if that’s where your story went, or even set up a sequel.
This, of course, is only a quick look at this type of story structure. There are also far more advanced structures that include not only plot points, but pinch points within them. You can have five acts, or seven, and there’s always the opportunity to break the rules completely.