The 3-Act, 40-Card Heroine’s Mashup – The Dragon’s Ridge

Good morning! It’s been a few weeks since I put out my last blog post, but I’ve had my head buried in soft peat getting my writer life organized. There are three different stories I’m dying to work on, but one needs a fresh outline/rewrite, the second needs a hammer and forge to whip it into shape, and the third needs a little bit of love and focus. Three very different novels in three stages of completion, but each of them needs the same thing: a critical eye on the structure so I know where to start hammering.

Earlier this year, I was at the roof again: that magical writer place where you know your story isn’t perfect yet, but you’re not quite sure how to fix it. Growth is needed, and some new weapons for your arsenal, but you’re alone in the void, frustrated and scratching your head. Maybe even with a bottle of whiskey in hand… I digress. Frustrated and feeling like I was missing some critical piece of writer craft the universe was hiding, I went back to the beginning. The structure. Asking myself: Am I doing this right?

After days scouring the internet and filling out worksheets, I realized that none of the structures were quite what my story needed, but I liked elements of each. My story is fast-paced and constantly escalates the conflict, and then I stumbled across Story Structure 101 – The Index Card Method by Alexandra Sokoloff. Holy crap did this make sense – tell smaller short stories within the larger narrative to keep the pace moving.

But I still needed a larger structure for the larger narrative, so I pulled a 3-act structure to wrap around my 40-cards. Things were starting to get clearer, but I was still leaving out one important element.

My hero. Or in this case, my pissed off mama Heroine.

Enter the Hero’s Journey structure. After formatting my cards into a 3-act structure, I plugged in all the important events as headers: inciting event, turning point, midpoint, etc. Et voila, a structure that made sense to me, and embraced the hero, the plot and a narrative that would keep the story moving forward with smaller, in-story events.

Yesterday, my amazing Critique Partner, A.J. Super mentioned my mashup to other writers, and I was so happy to see their interest. So I’m sharing it with the world. Feel free to use for your own story, or make tweaks for your writing style:

Dragon Ridge Structure Template: Excel File

Hopefully this baby finds value in your hands. If it does, feel free to drop me a note and let me know. I’m always happy to hear from my readers. 🙂

2 comments to The 3-Act, 40-Card Heroine’s Mashup – The Dragon’s Ridge

  • R Klay  says:

    Thanks again for sharing this! Tried it out today with one of my side ideas and loved it. Am now plugging my current WIP deets in and loving the changes it’s sparking already 🙂 Have tweaked it a little to suit my style of writing, but definitely worth a look for any other plotters out there.

    • K.J. Harrowick  says:

      Hooray! So glad this worked for you. 🙂

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