Friday, June 13, 2014

The Three Acts of Life – and Your Stories by Caryl McAdoo

Caryl McAdoo
Have you ever thought about your own life as a story? Various characters come and go—some more influential than others. We each face conflicts, challenges, and trials, hoping to reach our goals in the end. As a writer, Caryl McAdoo sees the correlation between our lives and the three acts in writing. Enjoy! 
~ Dawn

The Three Acts of Life – and Your Stories
by Caryl McAdoo

Every story unavoidably has three parts: the beginning, the middle, and the end. Even our lives comply to this philosophy. We were born and reared – our beginning. We live our life – our middle. We grow old and die – our end. So it is with every story without exception if it is to be a successful one. We know it’s paramount to hook reader in the beginning, and keep them turning pages through the middle, but if no satisfactory conclusion is offered, it’d be like inviting friends to party, showing the beautiful cake, but never giving them a piece.

Act One calls your heroine to her journey with a decision that leads to a crisis or a crisis that leads to a decision. Introduce all your players (heroine, romance, sidekick, mentor, and villain) in this Act, even if they don’t reappear until the end, and lay the foundation for your character arc, her growth. Its end comes with how your heroine intends to solve her main dilemma. If you’re writing a thirty chapter book this insight usually comes around Chapter Ten; maybe Eight or Twelve, but around the first third of your story.

Act Two escalates her problems and sees her overcome every one. Continually throw rocks at her; one thing after another; when it rains, it pours, doesn’t it? Isn’t that life? However many trials and tribulations you hurl at your leading lady determines your book’s length. Your readers learn about your cast, and the players more about themselves here. This middle is similar in length to Act One or longer, depending on your novel’s desired length. Use this Act to turn a seventy thousand word story into ninety-five thousand word one. The more tribulation and solutions, the longer the middle of your story grows.

Act Three is every bit as important as your first chapter. Have you ever read or watched a story that ended with no satisfactory conclusion? Maybe the author rushed through to the end just to get finished? Feel cheated? While those content to see that party cake without ever tasting it, the majority want to have their cake and eat it, too!

Wrap up every loose end. Catch every rabbit chased. If you introduced a blue suitcase or shown a gun on the mantle, then let your reader know why before Act Three is over. And after she defeats her villain, let her return to her normal life victoriously. Think of Reese Witherspoon in Sweet Home Alabama. She goes to the beach in the storm, reclaims her true love, then takes him back to the reception they never had, and all is right in her world.

Most reading this is living out their own Act Two. Rest assured the Greatest Storyteller ever has His plans in place for each of us to end as the victor. Rejoice and give praise for every trial and tribulation for He will bring you through the overcomer. Our God is completely trust worthy and faithful to keep us in His everlasting love and tender mercies until The End! 


Every story unavoidably has three parts: the beginning, the middle, and the end. Even our lives comply to this philosophy. Click to tweet.

If no satisfactory conclusion is offered to a story, it’s like inviting friends to party, showing the beautiful cake, but never giving them a piece. Click to tweet.

When writing a story, remember to wrap up every loose end. Catch every rabbit chased. Click to tweet.

Lady  Luck's a Loser

Wealthy widower ready for a new lady in his life determines not to go through the dating scene. He hits on an idea and hires eight very different women to come live at his B&B! Then he devises games for Lady Luck to send one home each month hoping Mrs. Right will remain. But will his scheme backfire and spoil any chance for happiness?

FIVE STAR REVIEW from Affaire de Coeur magazine: “Splendid… Caryl McAdoo concocted a storyline brimming with originality, Christian values, and humor. …easy reading, delightful book!

Caryl McAdoo co-authored two non-fiction, three mid-grade chapter books, and four novels from four small publishers before VOW UNBROKEN debuted this past March from Simon and Schuster’s Howard Books. The historical Christian romance will be followed in September with HEART STOLEN. And a mature inspirational romance that previously earned a five star review from Affaire de Couer magazine is being re-released this month as LADY LUCK’S A LOSER. For every blessing, Caryl gives God glory. She lives a Red River County country-life with her high school sweetheart husband of forty-six years and two grandsons in northeast Texas.

To learn more and connect with Caryl, please visit:

Website      -

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  1. All true, Caryl. And to think our lives on this earth are a speck. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hey Ann! You are so welcome! I agree that compared to the eternity we will all live, life here is like a vapor. We can get so caught up in it and forget that sometimes. I'm so glad to know that God's always got His plans in place!

  2. Caryl - I'm hoping for a REALLY long act two in my life. :-)

    Seriously, I like how you coorelated the three acts to life. I had never thought of that.

  3. Hey, Terri, thanks for your comment :) I recently turned 64 and find it so funny how YOUNG 64 seems now that I've made it :) But also a little strange that doctors and teachers and attorneys and "editors" are all mere babies :) I'll tell you though, I've had so many huge blessings that it seems I've been the victor for some time now :) God is good! I am so blessed! Hope you are, too!


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