Being a novice writer whose degree is not in English, literature, or any kind of writing, I struggle a bit with plotting. The whole three-act structure is kind of a mystery to me. It seems like something that you impose after reading a story, not something you can really plan ahead of time without seeming boring and formulaic. As in, "I must have a first act, so this is it, and here is the second act, and look at this nice climax I've added, and don't you just love what I've done with the denouement, Darling?"
I took French, so I can pronounce that correctly - "DAY-new-montt."
I remember in high school classes how we would analyze all these books and write five paragraph essays about them. And then I had to write a term paper comparing and contrasting three novels of the same genre. Again, with three main points, each one explained by its own mini-five paragraph essay. Surprise - I picked the Lord of The Rings, Out of the Silent Planet and Earthsea. It was horrible digging up all the points I needed and putting them in the correct logical order, even though they were all great books to read and research.
I think that writing a three-act novel would be about as exciting as writing that term paper. So I'm just writing it, and I'll let the future American Lit students figure it out for me.
But, I had a revelation last week when I stumbled across this article at Storyfix.com: Hook vs. First Plot Point - Don't Get Fooled.
I think that I've been trying to make my first plot point my hook, and I need to go back to what I was doing and allow some buildup.
How are you handling the whole "hook" issue? How are you getting your readers hooked on your story, and how much do you reveal about the actual plot in the first few pages? How much do you think you need to reveal to hold your readers' interest?
P.S. for more info on story structure, look here and here.