Constructing an Impacting Story – Vicki Millar
Whether you’re presenting a real life testimony, adapting a bible story or creating a work of fiction as an illustration, here are some fundamentals of structure to help you shape your story.
THREE ACT STRUCTURE
If you analyse almost any film, play or novel you’ll find this structure playing out:
- Setup (25% of the story)
- Confrontation (50% of the story)
- Resolution (25% of the story)
We start with our ‘hero’ in their ‘ordinary world’, showing the audience who they are, what their life is like, and what they want. In a testimony for example, we’ll show the person at home, at work, their unique challenges, and longing for something more.
Then, at the end of the setup section… something happens!
This is a moment where something significant changes for our hero. In a testimony it may be a loss or a disappointment, the beginning of a harmful addiction, or something that sends them into a particularly dark spiral. In our recent Christmas show ‘Mr Scrooge’, after showing Scrooge angrily interacting with his employees during the setup, an encounter with an angelic visitor starts him on a journey of self-examination.
As a result, our hero now encounters more problems. In a testimony, life often gets worse from here; and for Scrooge, he faces difficult memories that show him how he became so hardened.
Halfway through this confrontation section we hit the ‘midpoint’ – the halfway point of the whole story, and usually a crisis point. Something else happens to push our hero in a whole new direction.
In a testimony, this is often the point where the person has gotten to the end of themselves, crying out to God, and Jesus steps in to bring rescue and hope. For Scrooge, the memory of his fiancée leaving him is the wake-up call he needs to realise his life has spun out of control, and ask for help.
The second half of the confrontation section is the hero’s response to what happened at the midpoint, adjusting to a new way of thinking and living.
At around the 75% mark of any story, we see another big moment. In a testimony, this is usually a major change that God has brought about, a new opportunity, a stepping in to purpose. For Scrooge, it is hearing an angel tell him how he can have new life because of God’s gift of Jesus at Christmas.
The rest of the story is a description of how life has changed for them and where they are at now, leaving the audience with a strong message of hope.
Although there is much more to learn about story construction, this simple Three Act Structure is a great framework for effectively building your story.
Creative Arts Co-ordinator