Story Jam 1 – Three-Act Structure

So it’s week four of Abb and Bee’s saga and it’s time to pull it all together into a coherent story. This is my favourite part of the process!

It’s important to note that this won’t be a completed story, rather the three-act treatment of the story. From this, I’ll write a more detailed twelve-step treatment next week, which could then, in the future, be used to write a full screenplay, novella or novel. As you can probably tell if you’ve read all the previous posts about this story, I place great value on the construction of a story’s foundations first. So! Without further ado, let’s gather together all of the previous ideas and concepts I’ve had about this particular story and build it into three-acts.

Act One
Abb and Bee’s relationship is highly stressful. She, pregnant, wakes to find that he has fallen asleep in his ‘studio’. His projects constantly use the Cee and Dee for artistic applications, which waste money and makes Abb feel like her work is undervalued – they argue about this. Abb goes to work at the Cee and Dee research lab, which she finds is being picketed by a group protesting their research – they accuse Cee and Dee usage as anti-progress and there is more than a little mention of it being sacrilegious to many religious belief systems. A request for a meeting at their funding body, a big cee/dee cultivation company, inspires a discussion with her project leader; it’s likely that this meeting is about the synthesis project’s future, and it’s not gone unnoticed that Abb’s focus is lacking. Whilst working on the experiment, Abb is near-exhausted and is sent home to rest. She arrives to find that Bee has invited some of their friends round without telling her. Stressed and afraid for the future, Abb shuts herself off from the group – a friend comes to talk with her, but not Bee, who is more focused on showing off his art project. That evening at the closed lab, a protester breaks in and starts to sabotage the equipment, only to find information about the Cee and Dee synthesis project.

Act Two
The next morning, Abb wakes up with Bee and they talk briefly. Just before they can get to the heart of the conversation though, Abb receives an urgent phone-call from her boss telling her to go to the lab immediately. Abb arrives to find a much larger protest outside the lab, with the emphasis now being heavily on how wrong it is to synthesize the Cee and Dee together. There is a frank and sharply-worded conversation with her manager, before they leave for the meeting – they pass teams of reporters on the way out of the office. Her team goes for a meeting at a huge energy-provider’s Cee/Dee cultivation company. They are taken on a short tour of the facility, where they are able to see some of the experiments being done with fossil-fuel generated power. In the meeting they discuss the future of the synthesis project, including the controversy surrounding its exposure that morning. The board members are largely in favour of shutting the synthesis project down entirely citing the obvious benefits of investing in fossil-fuel power generation. The chief board-member recognises the potential benefits of discovering the Cee and Dee synthesis though, and argues for the project’s continuation. They are effectively told that, because they haven’t made any recent breakthroughs, the project will be reduced in size, by way of getting rid of some of the key staff.

Act Three
Whilst looking at the Cee and Dee plant, Abb discusses things with the project leader, who has not yet decided on the staffing changes. Abb goes home to find Bee wastefully using Cee and Dee as part of his art project. They have a massive argument, where the art studio gets trashed and they end their relationship. In the post argument calm, they sit on the sofa and look at the room (a good opportunity for the ‘wonderment’ aspect to come in), to find that in contacting a mixture of chemicals Bee was using, the Cee and Dee seem to be synthesizing. (Perhaps this could be shown visually by the Cee being red and the Dee being blue – their coming together has created something purple – something easily identifiable like that, anyway). Amazed, Abb takes frantic notes on this and races back over to the lab, where a lot of her friends are clearing their work-stations. She stops them and shows them her results; they don’t yet know how, but the Cee and Dee are definitely synthesizing. The story ends with the project retaining funding from the cultivation company to research this new breakthrough and with Abb and Bee living separate happy lives connected with their newborn child (more opportunity for wonderment as the child is lulled to sleep by a glowing mobile made of Cee and Dee).

Ok, that’s a good start, but there’s a few things that I think need addressing when I scale it up to twelve-steps:

  • The extent of Cee and Dee use in daily life needs to be highlighted very early on.
  • The Cee and Dee need to be highlighted as living creatures – perhaps by way of Bee’s wasting them or hurting them. Abb could accuse the chemicals he is using of being harmful.
  • To add drama, Abb needs to be directly responsible for the leak of information – she could leave some papers out on her desk or something.
  • Abb needs to fall asleep whilst working on the project at home – she needs to be shown to be as single-minded as Bee is.
  • Bee’s art project aims specifically to show the beauty of the Cee and Dee’s interaction, so that it parallels the synthesis project.
  • Abb and Bee’s history needs to be stated so it doesn’t just look like they’re a dysfunctional couple.
  • It needs to be shown that Abb has friends at work who might be concerned for her.
  • The war needs to be highlighted a little more.
  • The reader/audience needs to be reminded of Abb’s pregnancy once in a while.
  • The protester breaking into the lab is an action that would drive the story much more if it was placed earlier on in the first act. Perhaps it could be the reason the energy-provider calls a meeting in the first place?

With those points in mind, I feel like I’m ready for one more pass at this story then! Next week, as a culmination of all the work I’ve done this month, I’ll build a full treatment of it! Check back then to find out the final chapter in this story’s story and feel free to comment below, or on Facebook or

Posted in Creature Feature, Romance, Sci Fi, Shoegazing, Story Jam

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