Mia Tsai Profile picture
Mar 10 11 tweets 2 min read
A question came up about structuring novels & how a 3-act isn’t always the best framework for the story. Growing in popularity is kishoutenketsu, the Japanese 4-act. But I think the West should use already-extant structures. 1/
Why? Because the West does not need to plunder other cultures for their storytelling methods before fully exploring its own. Novels can be written using any framework available. 2-acts exist (musicals, operas). 5-acts exist (Shakespearean plays). 2/
We're obsessed over agency in the West. We love our individualism and the ability to make choices. Texas hold ’em is a variant of poker built on player agency and the consequences of the choices the players make. 3/
I love Texas hold ’em. It's a card game, yes, but more than that, it's a game of learning the other players at the table and sussing out what they'll do next. It's a game of pitting unknown factors against unknown factors, with luck thrown in. And that can be your novel. 4/
ACT 1: The Hand

The hand is dealt. This is your exposition, your laying out of the stakes and goals. Introduce your cast, contextualize the setting for the MC. Your MC is sitting at the most precarious seat at the table—the big ante. They decide they're in. 5/
ACT 2: The Flop

The other players/forces make their choices. The flop lands on the table. Your MC now starts calculating. Is it worth going on? How much of a hand can they build? Someone bets. Most casual players with a halfway decent hand will see that bet. So will your MC. 6/
At any point your MC can make a different decision and fold. Or your MC can double down. Your MC can see the bet and raise the stakes. Scare off others, if possible. Or bluff and end the game early (this can backfire, and your MC may have to push all in before they're ready). 7/
ACT 3: The Turn

EVERYTHING CHANGES. Your MC either sees this through or folds before they die of bleeding out antes. THIS IS YOUR MC'S REVERSAL OF FORTUNE. Their moment of clarity. Their oh-no-it's-the-consequences-of-my-actions. Raise the stakes. *The goal changes.* 8/10
ACT 4: The River

This is your final act and your big setpiece. If your MC is here, there's no end but winning (sometimes the pyrrhic type) or losing. There is no escape. Your MC ekes out the ultimate win against everyone and everything or suffers a tragic defeat. 9/10
Hold ’em players understand the psychological, emotional, and mental aspects of the game to make the best choices they can, and that's why I think a novel built on hold ’em can be pacey, tight, and capture a reader's attention. If you try this, let me know... 10/10
BONUS TWEET: I believe you can write on just about any structure available and I always want to see experimentation, especially in short form. Write a novel in a circle. Write it like a house. Write it with popular song structure. Write it like a sestina. GO FOR IT.

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More from @itsamia

Mar 17, 2021
Let's sit with one of the reasons why 8 Asian women were murdered tonight. Because they are among the most vulnerable of us, and the shooter knew it.
I want to talk about the violent misogyny and white supremacy that has led us here, starting with incel and PUA groups that formed long ago in the early 2000s online.
I want to talk about how white supremacists purposely use Asian women as shields in their agendas. How they manipulate and abuse Asian women and ultimately bring them in.
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