Four Worlds to Include in Your Story

Photo by Porapak Apichodilok on

I hope you are already reading K.M. Weiland’s blog, Helping Writers Become Authors. Often I read one of her posts and realize that she is talking about something I have been working on articulating but hadn’t quite gotten there on my own.

Most recently this happened when I read her post “Understanding the Normal World of Your Story’s First Act.” It wasn’t the focus of the blog post but she quickly ran through the four story worlds. And, yes, this means that your story should most likely include these four worlds. They are, as listed by Weiland:

  1. The Normal World of the First Act
  2. The Adventure World of the Second Act
  3. The Underworld of the Third Act
  4. The New Normal World of the Resolution

Hmm. I had 1, 2, and 4 down but had never considered #3 but it immediately made sense. I’ll go through each of these in order just in case the concept of one or more is new to you.

The Normal World of the First Act

This is your POV character’s every day life and world. In Harry Potter, we meet him at the Dursley’s. Katniss is hunting for food in District 12.

The reader gets to know your character as they live. They see what is good about this world and what is not. Then something happens that pulls the character into . . .

The Adventure World of the Second Act

Once the character is convinced, or driven into the adventure, they enter a whole new world. Harry Potter is whisked to Hogwarts, a world of mystery and magic. Katniss goes off to train with the other tributes, entering a world of technology and wealth. Things are far from perfect but the POV character starts to get a feel for things and then they drop into . . .

The Underworld of the Third Act

In the third act, the reader wonders if the POV character is going to succeed. Will Harry and his friends succeed in defeating Voldemort? Will Katniss find a way that both she and Peta survive as Victors? There are failures, losses, and tragedies. The POV character loses allies and there is every indication that they might fail.

I had never thought of this as the Underworld but it is a world of reversal and it feels like “all is lost.” What a perfect term?

The New Normal World of the Resolution

During the resolution, the POV character returns home. But this a new normal because they have changed and can’t entirely go back to their old situation. Katniss may be back in District 12 but she is not living in the Victor’s Village. People, ranging from her neighbors to President Snow, treat her differently. Win or lose, there is no going back.

What about your story? Have you included all four of these worlds in your story? If not, you may have some work to do.


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