2010 Five Act Structure

slide09 Integration with the Five Acts

I intend to use the five act Structure for all the books. I came to prefer this structure after studying the work of Joseph Campbell and his “Heroes Journey” and subsequently reading Christoper Vogler.Vogler found himself resorting to four acts in his book “The Writers Journey’.

I have experimented with that but moved on because the five act structure works so much better for the action based novels I write.

 I have not abandoned concepts of the heroes journey as I believe “events” of the “Heroes Journey” help as milestones for many many structural issues.

The five acts are as follows:-

Act 1 Exposition

slide10 The tension curve, Act One And the hero's journeyThe exposition provides the background information needed for a reader to properly understand the story, such as the protagonist, the antagonist, the basic conflict, and the setting.

It Introduces the characters, shows some of their interrelationships, and places them within a time and place.

Introduces the main character(s) our hero(s), the dramatic premise, and the dramatic situation.

At the end of Act I, the hero(s) makes decisions to confront his issues instead of avoiding them. This is called called the inciting moment, which is the incident without which there would be no story.

The inciting moment sets the remainder of the story in motion beginning with the second act, the rising action.

Act 2 Progress and Challenges

slide11 The tension curve, Act Two And the hero's journeyDuring rising action, we see the first plot point or event that sets the plot in motion.

The basic conflict is complicated by the introduction of related secondary conflicts, including various obstacles.

Secondary conflicts can include adversaries of lesser importance than the story’s antagonist, who may work with the antagonist or separately.

At some point in the Rising action, our hero takes on the problem. The rising action is the path toward the confrontation where our hero has to acquire and use new skills ( specific to this story:- The skills Ximene sets out to acquire are completely different to those acquired by John.  They both have their own journey)

Act 3 Achievements and Threats

slide12 The tension curve, Act Three And the hero's journeyThe third act is that of the climax, or turning point, which marks a change, for the better or the worse, in the protagonist’s affairs.

If the story is a comedy, things will have gone badly for the protagonist up to this point. If the story is a tragedy, the opposite state of affairs will ensue, with things going from good to bad for the protagonist.

Note that the Climax is not a ‘point’ in the five act structure but a whole series of events

 First Culmination

A point just before the halfway where our hero seems close to achieving his goal/objective but fails. It is where everything falls apart, leading to the midpoint. 


Is a point approximately halfway where our hero reaches his lowest point and seems farthest from fulfilling the dramatic need or objective.

The Second Culmination

Our hero progresses towards his ultimate goal which is the final confrontation with the antagonist.

The point at which the plot reaches maximum tension and the opposing forces confront each other.

Act 4 The Decisive Conflict

slide13 The tension curve, Act Four And the hero's journeyThis period is shorter than the rising action.

It is where we start tying up the loose ends. During the falling action, or the subsequent resolution, the conflict between the protagonist and the antagonist unravels, with the protagonist winning or losing against the antagonist.

The falling action might contain a moment of final suspense, during which the final outcome of the conflict is in doubt.

Summary: The falling action is that part of the story in which the main part (the climax) has finished and you’re heading to the conclusion.

Act 5 Outcomes

act-5 The dénouement comprises events between the falling action and the actual end of the drama or narrative and thus serves as the conclusion of the story.

Conflicts are resolved, creating normality for the characters and a sense of catharsis, or release of tension and anxiety.

In a comedy, the protagonist is better off than at the story’s outset.

A tragedy ends with a catastrophe in which the protagonist is worse off than at the beginning of the narrative.

There is a period of calm at the end where a state of equilibrium returns.

The main character has changed.

The “story question” is answered.

The Heroines Journey

slide14 The Heroine's JourneyIf one of the Protaganists is Female it is necessary to listen to Maureen Murdoch as well as Joseph Campbell and Vogler.  Murdoch studied with Campbell but struggled with some of his concepts.

‘You always write about the Hero’s journey’ she asked Campbell, ‘what about the Heroine’s Journey? The answer staggered her. ‘The heroine is the object of the Hero’s Journey’, Campbell answered, adding  ‘She doesn’t go anywhere, she is what the Hero is journeying to.’ It was at this point that Murdoch decided she should do some work on her own account.  (Atlanta Jungian Society 2010)

Maureen Murdoch identifies that the female version of the hero’s journey is different (and far more complex) from the male journey, mainly in that although at the start of the journey she must separate from the feminine she needs periodically to return to the feminine to restore her strength, purpose and direction. Each one of these cycles can be a journey in its own right.


The most dangerous woman in the world

The Treasure of Trencavel

List of Characters

Table Of Contents



List of Places

Table of Contents

Pseudo History


Extract from The Prisoner of Foix--Chapter 43 -The EntranceNo need to buy a Kindle. Read it on your computer or tablet

John Stanley-26th April 1355


'Looks like we are going to see a bit of excitement, John. The Captain tried to get an agreement from the Prince that if there is surf running across the channel to Arcachon we will turn back to Bordeaux, but the Prince would hear none of it. Instead, he has offered to provide insurance for all three ships. If they are damaged or sunk, the owners will be compensated and every sailor who makes the passage will be given a bounty payment. What none of this seems to take into account is that if we sink in rough, fast-flowing waters we might all drown.'

John raised his eyebrows. 'But that is what we are going to do?'

'Yes, despite the fact that surf running accross the entrance is not uncommon and the deep water channel moves continually. In the end, the Prince attacked their captains on their weakest point, their professional pride! He threw down the gauntlet. He offered to take the Sally first through the channel, and to take control during the passage.' He raised his brow. 'We are going into the Bay of Arcachon, come what may! '

Extract from The Eagle of Carcassone -- Chapter 24-- A Real GoddessNo need to buy a Kindle. Read it on your computer or tablet

John Stanley - 22 July 1355

An hour later John walked with Ximene close to the river along the valley below St Feriole. It was the very essence of a summer’s day. The sun was fierce but in the shadow of the trees, it was cool and fragrant. The trees and shrubs along the riverbank hid their progress, from the Château, from St Feriole.

Eventually they reached a point where John thought it was safe to emerge from cover. To his satisfaction the stream extended into a pool with a sandy beach, shaded by trees. Where the stream entered the pool there was a flat grassy area, almost circular. Behind this, the bulk of two mountain ridges provided a splendid backdrop. He looked around once more ‘Not just a good training ground but a great training ground. If the Greek heroes knew about this they might be tempted to join me, to train with me’

Ximene laughed out loud. He turned to look at her. She had removed her outer clothes and was wearing a white chemise, cut short so that it barely reached her knees. Around her waist, she wore a plaited leather belt, obviously fashioned from the multitude of leather straps to be found in the tackle room.

She ran her hands down over her breasts. ‘When you were unconscious I heard you muttering about gods and goddesses, so  I have decided that from now on, for you, I will be the goddess.’

The Prisoner of FoixVol 1 of the series—The Treasure of Trencavel

Aquitaine, an English possession, is in crisis. It is under threat from neighbouring nations and internal dissension.

The Black Prince, King Edward III’s eldest son has been given the task of taking command in Aquitaine.

Suddenly there is an opportunity. Ximene Trencavel is the heiress to the lands of Occitan, to the east of Aquitaine: lands controlled by the Franks. Ximene wants independence, both for herself and for Occitan.

A union between Aquitaine and Occitan would be mutually beneficial. The Black Prince undertakes a secret journey to meet Ximene to negotiate a marriage contract. It is, however, a marriage neither of them really wants.

Meanwhile, the  Franks plot to murder Ximene to prevent ,not just the marriage, but any kind of union between England and Occitan.

The Eagle Of CarcassonneVol II of the series—The Treasure of Trencavel

The loose alliance between Ximene Trencavel and the Black Prince is under threat.

The Prince invades Occitan, to show his support for Ximene but it becomes an invasion which creates more problems than it solves.

The Prince has fallen hopelessly in love with Joan of Kent and Joan is now determined to marry him and become the next Queen of England.

Joan is therefore  determined to convince Ximene that she should not marry the Prince.

Part of her strategy is to encourage Ximene’s relationship with John Stanley—one of the Princes bodyguards—not an easy task as both John and Ximene have doubts about their compatibility.

However, John is grievously injured in a battle and Ximene commits herself to nurse him back to health.