Act I: The Foundation

Act I of your story is the base that you will construct everything from.

To close the category on how to write the beginning of your novel I am going to outline the structure that each act in a novel should have. The source that I used to gather this information is Joseph Bates’s book The Nighttime Novelist: Finish Your Novel In Your Spare Time. For anyone who is  wishing to write a novel in their dwindling spare time, I would recommend this book. It has been a huge help to me. In this post I will be using the outline structure and elements from Joseph Bate’s book and adding my own blurbs and explanations.

Act I has three basic elements:

  • The Setup
  • The Inciting Incident
  • Plot Point One

The set up will happen at the very beginning of your novel and is where you will do just that; set it up. This is where you will introduce the setting and characters, maybe even add some foreshadowing. This is also where you will introduce your character’s internal motivation and the untruth that he believes.

The inciting incident will be a moment of external conflict that gives the reader an idea of what is at stake for the protagonist (or the extent of the internal conflict). This will take place after you have finished setting up your novel. This is also around the time when your protagonist’s charismatic moment should occur.

Act I will end with plot point one, which you can probably guess is a major turning point in the work. Plot point one will be the major event (external conflict) that propels the protagonist into the larger story or plot.

Example: (Sorry that this is vague but I don’t want to give too much away before my book is even finished or published.)

Set Up: To set up my novel I opened the story in the desert of Vast, describing the arid landscape and some of the creatures that live there. In chapter one I introduce Sand and his family and describe some important aspects of life as a meer.

The Inciting Incident: My inciting incident occurs right after chapter one when Sand is kidnapped and then abandoned by his older siblings. Left on his own and very aware of the dangers to a meer pup on his own, he contemplates his role in the family and how fond he is of them. This demonstrates his charismatic moment and reveals his greatest trait (his love for his family) but also reveals what is at stake for Sand and his family if he is not rescued. 

Plot Point One: This happens a little while after the inciting incident in Act I when Sand’s family is split in two. This will set the events of the other two acts in motion.

That is what has worked best for me in outlining my own novel. Remember that Act I should take up roughly 20-25% of your book.

Click here for more information on Joseph Bates’s book The Nighttime Novelist:

The Nighttime Novelist

For character descriptions, maps of the territories, and insight into the world of The Meer, visit any of these pages:


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