When I began my quest for publication, I purchased a few...okay more than a few, books on how to write. I was never much of an organizer and it showed. Now, I know that the first draft is suppose to be terrible, but horrific? Okay, maybe, but mine was beyond that. For me, it had to do with lack of direction and that, ladies and gents, can only be remedied by a map.
I didn't give structure a thought until I purchased Book in a Month by Victoria Lynn Schmidt. It helped me organize myself and got me thinking about the three act structure. I've even read somewhere about a four act structure. Hey, if it works why not? The point is that there is a structure.
Act I, begins with the inciting event. A problem, any problem at this point, and a character. Act I is the most difficult to frame. It's the beginning, the breath before the rain which comes before the storm. A lot has to happen in Act I. The curtain draws up, we are introduced to our characters, drawn into a world and given information that will hopefully heighten our senses for things to come. In writers terms: the setup; the mood; and the hook. By Act II we are either in love, have fallen out of love, or worse are indifferent.
Brainstorming Act I, I usually plot where I want the character to be at mid-point (Act II). I brainstorm ways I can get them there, and make it worse ten-fold. It helps to always think: what can make the journey harder? Usually, that will come with unexpected twists and turns. And the journey getting there is the fun part!