As I tell this story, think back over your life. We’ve all gone through hard times, some worse than others. Humor me, and if you’re struggling with story structure, you’ll at least begin to grasp it by the time you’ve read this post. That’s my hope, anyway.
Humans have structure — flesh, organs, tissue, arteries, veins, water, and muscle all have their place. No matter what race, religion, or creed, we are the same. What braces up our bodies is our skeleton — story structure.
We may look different on the outside — some have big noses, full lips, different skin and eye color — but we all started the same way…
As an egg — story idea.
Once fertilized, the egg grew in the womb, but still hadn’t fully formed yet — concept.
We evolved into a living, breathing human and entered the world — character.
We each grew to think and feel differently, have different world views, religions, heart, and soul — theme.
And we lived our lives, our story — premise.
Some people are more giving, outwardly loving. Some are more reserved. But it’s all because of how our parents raised us, or because a tragedy changed us — backstory.
So, we’ve been born and we’re growing up, maturing or have already matured. Whichever applies to that specific time in your life.
We scored a job. Perhaps married and had children. But we retained our inner demons, our flaws — Act I — 1st quartile: Set Up << which begins character arc, introduces characters, sets up FPP, foreshadows future events, etc.
And then something happened to throw our lives out of balance. This defining moment demanded that we act. We could not hide from it. It forced us to do something — First Plot Point, at 20-25%.
After this crucial moment occurred, an antagonist force entered our lives, or it was there all along and only now revealed itself — 1st Pinch Point, at 3/8th mark or 37.5%.
We reeled, flailed, resisted, and failed — Act II — 2nd quartile: Response
We either did something to fix the problem, or the problem worsened. All the while we kept thinking things could not get much worse. Or we believed we’d finally solved the problem. But it was a false victory or a false defeat — Midpoint, at 50%.
So, we needed to attack the problem head on, because it’s wasn’t going away — Act III — 3rd quartile: Attack << our true character changes again and we become a warrior.
We stopped our pity party because it wasn’t doing us any good. Besides, we’re stronger now than when we started this quest.
And then, the antagonist force emerged again. Only now, it was more terrifying than ever because it too had upped its game — 2nd Pinch Point, at 5/8th mark or 62.5%. Learn more about Pinch Points.
We realized we hadn’t actually solved the problem. We’d only made it worse. Or the victory was short-lived because we didn’t realize X,Y,Z was around the corner, waiting to explode. Things looked bleak. Could this situation get any worse? — All Is Lost Moment.
But how did we really feel about this? What sort of impact did it have on us? — Dark Night of the Soul.
Then something changed. Or we discovered something new that helped us see a glimmer at the end of a dark road — 2nd Plot Point, at 75%.
In fact, there was a way we could fix our lives — Act IV — 4th quartile: Resolution << this act completes character arc
The only way to defeat the antagonist was to overcome our fears, inner demons, flaws, and meet this force head on. We had to fight this battle (not be a bystander), with everything we’d learned in life thus far, about ourselves and the world around us — Climax.
After which, we lived happily ever after, or as happy as we could be in our new world. We grew as individuals, faced our fears, and had come out stronger for the effort. We’d settled into our new lives — Resolution.
Boom. The end. Obviously, we need a compelling hook first, but that’s it in a nutshell.
Could you think of a time in your life when this applied to you? Hold tight to that memory, and you’ll never forget story structure at its basic level.
“The more Shawnee digs, she ends up with more questions than answers and then add bloody body parts showing up on her doorstep, crows stalking her every move, unreachable friends, a serial killer on her heels, harrowing situations, and she’s just really not sure she’s up to the task at hand. Lines blur with truth and lies, deceptions and facts, and everything about her past will come into question. I loved everything about this book!” — Denise H, book reviewer
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