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Setting the Stage


The 3 Act Novel–Act 1-Scene 3-…


Setting the Stage


In scenes three through whatever you choose, you need to reveal your hero’s ‘normal’ world, including their friends, family, coworkers, etc. This is the set-up portion of the book where you begin explaining to your readers what the main character’s ordinary world is like and your hero’s flaws, so your reader knows what needs to change or be fixed in your hero and their surroundings.


Setting the stage comprises around 10% of your novel. So, take your time. There is a lot to explain, and your reader expects it.


Show your hero at home, school, work, and fun activities. Show them interacting with the other characters and expand on the details of how the others fit into their lives. Give these secondary characters a bit of a backstory as well.


Hint: You can show different flaws through your hero’s actions and reactions to diverse situations and settings.


Maybe your hero is angry at work, but kind and gentle at home with their children. Maybe they are always a jerk, no matter the situation or setting. It is your choice, but everything you show should be for a reason.


If they are angry at work and nice at home, there needs to be a reason why. Are they living a double life? Do they want to protect their family from the horrors of their job? Maybe they don’t like who they are at work, so they act differently at home. If they behave the same in all situations and with all people, this should be a flaw, something they need to work on. If they are happy all the time, they need to realize certain situations require solemnity and change the way they behave accordingly.


So, for setting the stage, you need to be patient, take your time, and do a lot of unveiling. Your reader wants to get to know your hero and their world before you turn it upside down.

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