“Probably, indeed, the larger part of the labour of an author in composing his work is critical labour—the labour of sifting, combining, constructing, expunging, correcting, testing.”
At the most basic level, stories have three parts: a beginning, a middle, and an end. We divide even the story of the human lifespan into young, middle-aged, and old. That division mirrors the typical structure of a story as well, in that we might say youth is the first 20 years, middle age is the next 40, and old age is the next 20 or so. The middle is twice as long as the beginning and the end. In screenwriting, people talk about the three-act structure, and it has exactly those proportions.
Although that division is a ...