Monday, September 29, 2014

The Three Act Method

Want your voice to be heard? For only three easy installments of $19.99 you can own the Cardinal Direction.  Act now, and I will double the offer, simply pay shipping and handling.

No, I’m not selling the Cardinal Direction. But those three simple sentences do demonstrate important aspects of this week’s article.  Last time we talked about the Foolscap Method for big picture planning. This week we will talk about breaking that plan into smaller pieces using another Steven Pressfield trick: The Three Act Method.

The Three Act Method isn’t just for playwrights – every dream and the business plan to see it through can be broken down into three acts.

“Break your dream down into three parts. Act One, Act Two, Act Three.  Beginning, middle, end.  Setup, story, punch line. Three-act structure works for a play, a romantic seduction, the 1st Marine Division marching up to Baghdad. It’s the architecture for a WWE wrestling match, a Frank Gehry concert hall or an infomercial,” says Steven Pressfield.

Act one is the Why. As in ‘Why should anyone care about your dream?’ It needs a call to action, a method to take action and a hook. Pressfield continues, “The purpose of the first act is to engage the audience. Two other aspects of a great beginning: it must be unique and it must make a promise.”

Act One of a business plan also requires feasibility.  If you are looking to start an Internet Café on the Moon then you need to call Sir Richard Branson but if you’re hoping to start one on Mainstreet Arlington, come talk to me.

If I had to pinpoint the end of Act One in a business plan it would be the lending institution’s approval of funds. Approval from a lending institution requires a thorough business plan in written form, some money  and a good hook.

Act Two is the fun part. The doing, the crafting, the building. The second act is creating your dream from the ground up. “Our middle passage—whether it’s a novel, a startup or a philanthropic venture—plays out the promise of the beginning to the point of excruciation.”

Using troop leading procedures from previous articles as an example, act one is issuing the Warning Order (the ‘why’ or hook), making a tentative plan (call to action) and initiating movement (action). Reconnaissance is ongoing, and completing the plan is act two. Supervising is act three.

“Act Three is the payoff. The release of tension. The climax. The resolution of the dilemma. For some reason, the human mind loves items that come in threes. That’s the key to laying out our structure,” finishes Pressfield.

Every entrepreneur knows that the Grand Opening is the epilogue and not the climax of the story. The 24/7 labor of love required to make a business successful starts with ribbon cutting and ends…never. You could say that Act Three is forever To-be-continued.

To get to the climax you must start with a good plan. Foolscap and the Three Act Method may help you create that plan and see your dream come true.

The Arlington Community Development Corporation has low-interest funding available to help you with Act One of your three acts. Come see me at Norgaard Insurance and let’s begin writing your story.  

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