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Saturday, May 6, 2023

White Noise... reconsidered.

Years ago, I wrote a novel, or, a lot of one. I got to 60,000 words +/- but it never felt right. The beginning felt right, the middle felt empty, the end forced. It never really became much except a seed of an idea. 

Scene One:

Then my wife died, and I shelved the whole project. I'm fact, I shelved writing in general, creatively. 

It's been stirring again, but I don't feel good inside moving on yet. I feel I owed it to myself, and my late wife, to finish the first novel. Even if it's just a cathartic exercise. 

My new wife, a fellow widow, has been encourime to tap into my creative fun side, so, today, on a whim, I thought, maybe I can use ChatGPT as a sounding board to workshop the novel and start it over, with a better, more comprehensive, and more ties together story structure. 

It was a great chat, I have a ton of new ideas, and it helped me see how the whole story could fit together more naturally and coherently. 

The chat from today:


Chat Title:
Three-Act Story Structure.

Using the classic three act structure taught by km wyland at helping writers become what is a story structure

The classic three-act structure, as taught by K.M. Weiland at Helping Writers Become Authors, is a common framework used in storytelling. It is a basic formula that helps writers organize their stories into a beginning, middle, and end.

Act 1: The Setup

The first act sets up the story and introduces the main character. This is where you establish the world of the story, the character's goals, and the conflict they will face. This act usually ends with the "inciting incident," which is the event that sets the story in motion.

Act 2: The Confrontation

The second act is the longest and most complicated part of the story. This is where the character confronts the main conflict, faces challenges, and experiences setbacks. The character must overcome obstacles and work towards achieving their goal. This act ends with the "climax," which is the moment of maximum tension or conflict in the story.

Act 3: The Resolution

The final act is where the story resolves. The character confronts the final conflict and achieves their goal, or they fail and must deal with the consequences. This act ends with the "resolution," which is the conclusion of the story.

Overall, the three-act structure is a useful tool for organizing a story and keeping it on track. By following this structure, writers can create a cohesive and satisfying narrative that engages readers from beginning to end.

I know that my story story starts with a disabled veteran who had gone through some experiments and is seeing things what he doesn't realize at first is that the things he's seeing are actually real spirits of the spirit world. He is eventually attacked by the people who did the experiments in attempt to keep them quiet. I think the story ultimately resolves when he meets the doctor in charge of the experiment and he is able to make peace with the spirit world whereas the doctor is not. The doctor ends up in an insane asylum and the veteran ends up working with other experimentes to help them unlock their powers. What would a story structure look like around this concept and what kinds of things might be missing from The Middle.

Based on the concept you have provided, here is a possible structure for your story, using the classic three-act structure:

Act 1: The Setup

Introduction of the disabled veteran and his experiences with the experiments
Establishment of the spirit world and the veteran's interactions with it
The inciting incident: the veteran is attacked by the people who conducted the experiments
Act 2: The Confrontation

The veteran is on the run, trying to uncover the truth about the experiments and why he was targeted
He meets other people who have undergone similar experiments and discovers their unique abilities
The veteran's powers grow stronger as he becomes more in tune with the spirit world
The climax: the veteran confronts the doctor in charge of the experiments and must make a choice about his own destiny and the fate of the other experimentees
Act 3: The Resolution

The veteran comes to terms with his powers and makes peace with the spirit world
The doctor is committed to an insane asylum, unable to cope with the consequences of his actions
The veteran begins to work with the other experimentees, helping them to control their abilities and navigate the spirit world
In terms of what might be missing from the middle, it could be helpful to consider specific obstacles and challenges that the veteran faces as he tries to uncover the truth and gain control of his powers. These could include encounters with other entities in the spirit world, conflicts with other experimentees who have different goals or motivations, and further attempts by the people who conducted the experiments to stop him. Additionally, the middle could benefit from moments of reflection and character development, as the veteran comes to terms with his experiences and learns to trust himself and his powers.

Exploring Act 1. A female reporter, Destiny, has been tracking down the edges of the story for a few years. She may even be the reason it's become dangerous to leave the experimentees alive? Maybe. She meets our veteran, Ash, in a small town under the pretense of doing a story on small towns in America, but she's actually there because he and one other man, a homeless man named Chester, were experimentees. But Ash doesn't remember being a test subject. He remembers volunteering for a military program, that led to his medical discharge, but his memory of the actual events is fuzzy, and he thinks it's resulted in hallucinations and nightmares. All he wants is to be "normal". What he doesn't realize yet, is that the hallucinations are actually beings from another dimension, that some religious people call spirits, and the dreams are actually memories trying to surface from the experiment. He uses prescription drugs to dull these affects, ineffectively. 
Brainstorming with me, What types of events could take place in the first act?

Here are some possible events that could take place in the first act of your story:

Destiny's investigation: We see Destiny doing research, interviewing people, and gathering information about the experiments and their participants. She may uncover clues that point her in Ash's direction.
Ash's daily life: We get a glimpse of Ash's current life, which is characterized by isolation, fear, and a desire to be "normal". We see how his experiences with the experiments have affected him, and how he copes with his symptoms.
Ash and Destiny's initial meeting: They meet in the small town where Ash lives, and strike up a conversation. Ash is initially guarded, but something about Destiny intrigues him. Destiny is friendly and curious, but is also hiding her true motives for being there.
Chester's appearance: Chester, the other experimentee, makes an appearance. He may be homeless, but he's streetwise and perceptive. He recognizes something in Ash that suggests they have a connection, and he starts asking questions.
The first encounter with the spirit world: Ash has a vivid hallucination or dream that involves a spirit. At first he dismisses it as a hallucination, but the experience lingers with him and starts to raise questions.
Ash's memories start to resurface: Ash starts to have brief flashes of memory, which are disorienting and confusing. He may try to ignore them at first, but they become more persistent and troubling.

Typically, the inciting event takes place early, something that shakes the protagonist from his current world and begins foreshadowing the story world. The first plot point takes place at the end of Act 1, forcing the protagonist beyond the point of no return. I'm my original draft, I toyed with an assassination attempt on Ash's life that forces him to find out what's happening. However, while the scene was fascinating, it left me stuck for "but now what"? in Act 2. 

What kinds of inciting events and plot points could we consider for Act 1 with Ash as a primary protagonist?

Here are some potential inciting events and plot points for Act 1 with Ash as the primary protagonist:

The discovery of Chester's death: Ash discovers that Chester has been killed, and starts to realize that there may be people trying to cover up their involvement in the experiments. This could spur him to take action and start investigating what happened to him and Chester.
Ash's first encounter with the people who did the experiments: Ash is confronted by the people who conducted the experiments, who may be trying to silence him or intimidate him into keeping quiet. This could be a scary and disorienting experience for him, and could motivate him to seek answers.
A breakthrough in Ash's memories: Ash has a vivid dream or flashback that gives him a significant piece of information about what happened to him during the experiments. This could be a turning point for him, as he realizes that his memories may be the key to understanding what's going on.
Destiny reveals her true intentions: Ash discovers that Destiny is actually a reporter investigating the experiments, and that she's been keeping her true intentions hidden from him. This could create a sense of betrayal and mistrust between them, while also pushing Ash to take action and help her uncover the truth.
The emergence of a new spirit: Ash has a powerful encounter with a spirit that seems different from any he's seen before. This could be a sign that something has changed, and that the spirit world may be more dangerous or unpredictable than he initially thought.
Ash is forced to make a choice: Ash is presented with a difficult decision, such as whether to trust Destiny or go it alone, whether to confront the people behind the experiments or keep his head down, or whether to continue using drugs to dull his symptoms or try to confront them head-on. This choice could have significant consequences for the rest of the story.

All but the last point were included in my original draft, which tells me I was going in the right direction, but your nuances gave me new ideas for those scenes. 

On the last bullet point, that could give me the middle Act 2 you suggested further back in this dialogue. What kind of decision could he be facing? It sounds like maybe the drugs dulling things may be a key factor. What if Destiny replaced his drugs with placebos to force him awake, out of desperation both to get her story, and the truth, but also because she's falling for him and she wants to save him?

That's an interesting idea! Here are a few possible decisions that Ash could be facing in Act 1 or Act 2:

Whether to continue using the drugs or try to face his symptoms without them. This could be a difficult decision for Ash, as the drugs may be the only way he can function in his day-to-day life, but they're also preventing him from fully understanding what's happening to him. Destiny's decision to replace his drugs with placebos could be the catalyst that forces Ash to confront this choice head-on.
Whether to trust Destiny or go it alone. As Ash begins to work with Destiny to uncover the truth about the experiments, he may start to develop feelings for her. But if he finds out that she's been deceiving him by replacing his drugs with placebos, he may begin to question her motives and wonder if he can trust her. This could lead him to choose between working with her to uncover the truth or going it alone.
Whether to confront the people behind the experiments or keep his head down. As Ash gets closer to the truth, he may start to feel like he's in over his head. He may be torn between trying to take down the people who did the experiments, and trying to protect himself and his loved ones from their retribution. This could be a difficult decision for Ash, as it may require him to put himself in danger in order to do the right thing.
Whether to confront his memories or try to suppress them. As Ash starts to remember more about the experiments, he may begin to feel overwhelmed by the traumatic memories. He may have to decide whether to try to suppress these memories in order to preserve his mental health, or whether to confront them head-on in order to uncover the truth. This could be a difficult decision for Ash, as it may require him to confront painful and uncomfortable memories in order to get to the bottom of what happened to him.

Being former special forces, USAF, he has both the former drive to stare down this challenge, but also the defeated ego from years of what he thinks is PTSD to doubt his ability to even live a life... If he realizes it may not be PTSD, and he's not actually going crazy, this may force him to take the plunge into the adventure!

Yes, that could be a powerful motivator for Ash to finally take action and confront the truth about his experiences. If he realizes that what he's been experiencing is not just PTSD, but something much more complex and sinister, it could give him the push he needs to take on this new challenge.

Additionally, the fact that Ash is a former special forces member could give him a unique set of skills and resources that he can use to his advantage in the story. Perhaps he has contacts in the military or the intelligence community that could help him uncover information about the experiments, or maybe he has specialized training that will come in handy as he faces off against the people responsible for the experiments.

Ultimately, the decision to confront his past and seek the truth could be a turning point for Ash's character. It could force him to reevaluate his entire identity and what he thought he knew about himself, and it could be the key to unlocking his true potential as a protagonist.

Now. What if Destiny had her own POV in the story , with her own three act structure... What would her inciting event and first plot point be, that coincide but either nuance or contrast Ash's?

That's an interesting idea! If Destiny had her own POV and three act structure, her inciting event could be when she first learns about the experiments and becomes intrigued by them. Maybe she comes across a small mention of the experiments in a news article or hears about them from a source, and she becomes determined to uncover the truth.

Her first plot point could be when she meets Ash and realizes that he is a key piece of the puzzle. Maybe she initially approaches him under the guise of doing a story on small towns in America, but she quickly realizes that he has a deeper connection to the experiments. This realization could force her to make a choice: continue down the safe path of doing a standard human interest story or pursue the risky path of investigating the experiments and potentially putting herself in danger.

Alternatively, her first plot point could be when she faces pushback from her editor or her colleagues for pursuing the story. Maybe they think it's too risky or too niche, and they want her to focus on more mainstream topics. This pushback could force her to make a choice: abandon the story and stick to safer topics, or continue pursuing the story at all costs.

By having Destiny's own POV and three act structure, you could create a rich, layered story that explores the experiences of both protagonists in depth. It could also allow for interesting contrasts and comparisons between their perspectives and motivations.


Free Research Preview. ChatGPT may produce inaccurate information about people, places, or facts. ChatGPT May 3 Version



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