Want to Know More About the Structure of Your Favorite Books and Movies? Announcing the Story Structure Database!

Want to Know More About the Structure of Your Favorite Books and Movies? Announcing the Story Structure Database!

Ready for the unveiling of the “Big Secret”? For months, I’ve been hinting at a secret project that’s been in the works just for you Wordplayers! You have all been very industrious with your guesses–everything from my opening up a moose farm, to a role for moi in the next Avengers movie, to a free year’s supply of chocolate for all Wordplayers. Today, I’m super excited to get to put an end to the guessing and unveil what I hope will be a fabulous resource for all of us. What is it? The official Story Structure Database.

What Is the Story Structure Database?

That’s easy. The Story Structure Database is an archive of books and movies, recording all their major plot points:

Nothing can teach us good storytelling like examples from the stories (both successful and otherwise) we have experienced ourselves. I have always encouraged authors to pay attention to structure when reading books and watching movies. All you have to do is divide the total page count or running time in eighths and watch to see what happens near that moment.

But sometimes it’s handy to have someone else’s opinion to back yours up or to clarify things.

That’s where the Story Structure Database comes in. In time, I hope the database will be able to offer thousands of titles. If you’re ever unsure of a structural point in a story—or just want to spend some time browsing examples of story structure—you’ll be able to search the database to find exactly what you’re looking for.

Why Do We Need a Story Structure Database?

The inspiration for this comes thanks to Chris James who emailed me last year, wondering if I could help him nail down the plot points in True Lies and Alien. I hadn’t seen either movie at the time, so wasn’t able to be of much help. But it dawned on me that I was already making a mental note of the story structure of every book I read and every movie I watched. Why not share that information with all of you?

Structuring Your Novel and Structuring Your Novel Workbook by K.M. WeilandEver since I published Structuring Your Novel  and the Structuring Your Novel Workbook, I’ve received many requests for more examples of story structure in popular novels and films. I’ve shared as many pertinent examples as possible in my blog posts, but all of this got me to thinking:

How awesome would it be to have an easily accessible database where authors could look up the story in question and find input on its important structural moments?

This is something I’ve actually searched for myself without ever being able to come up with a satisfactory resource.

How to Use the Story Structure Database

  • Access the database here or by visiting the link in the top menu (or by swiping out the left sidebar, if you’re viewing on a mobile or otherwise small screen).

Story Structure Database Link

Story Structure Database Link on Mobile Menu

  • The database’s home page will offer you all the most recent additions of book and movie titles.
  • Subscribe to the database to receive updates whenever a new title is added by entering your email address into the box in the left-hand column. (Note: This subscription is separate from my e-letter mailing list or the email updates for the blog posts—which you can sign up for in the left column of the main part of the site. The database mailing list will subscribe you only to the database updates.)

Subscribe to Story Structure Database

  • Use the search bar at the top of the right column to browse for specific titles.

Search the Story Structure Database

  • Use the drop-down menu halfway down the right column to browse titles by genre.

Drop-Down Genre Menu for Story Structure Database

Story Structure Database Index

When you click on a title, you’ll discover all its prominent structural points. Armed with a solid understanding of structure and (in most instances) a familiarity with the title, you’ll be able to understand the significance of each event on your own. If you have questions, you’re always free to ask me!

Needless to say, there will be spoilers, so if you haven’t read the book or watch the movie, click on its title at your own risk!

How You Can Add Your Voice to the Story Structure Database

In order to make the database as extensive—and helpful—as possible, I invite all of you to submit your own structural analyses as well. Feel free to submit your own published books as well!

How to Submit Your Own Story Structure Analysis

  • Look for the “Click to Upload a Story Structure” button.

Upload Your Own Story Structure to the Database

  • Fill out the form with all nine important structural moments (see list above).
  • Hit submit!

Depending on how large the queue grows to be, it may take a while for your structure to show up, since I’ll be monitoring and adding them by hand. I will, of course, maintain the right not to post any structure I feel is incorrect or inappropriate, and I will double check the structures of any books or movies I’m personally familiar with.

We want to create a database that is as accurate as possible, but certain aspects of structure (particularly in stories that aren’t well structured) can be ambiguous. Don’t take every analysis to be gospel. Challenge yourself to read the books and watch the movies so you can identify all the structural points for yourself. Use even structure analyses you disagree with to strengthen your understanding of how to write your own best stories!

I believe the Story Structure Database has the potential to be a tremendous tool for all of us (I’m already using it like crazy myself!). Please join me helping all of us expand our knowledge of story structure and our understanding of amazing tales!

Tell me your opinion: What books and movies would you most like to see added to the Story Structure Database?

 

Want to Know More About the Structure of Your Favorite Books and Movies? Announcing the Story Structure Database!

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About K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland

K.M. Weiland lives in make-believe worlds, talks to imaginary friends, and survives primarily on chocolate truffles and espresso. She is the IPPY and NIEA Award-winning and internationally published author of the Amazon bestsellers Outlining Your Novel and Structuring Your Novel. She writes historical and speculative fiction from her home in western Nebraska and mentors authors on her award-winning website.

Comments

  1. Until I read ‘Structuring your Novel’, I hadn’t really thought about structure as such. After I read it, I opened each of my published novels and checked out a few salient points of structure. What I found was interesting. First – at almost the precise mid-point of each novel there comes that moment where there is no going back. Honest – there it is. No cataclysmic explosions, just that subtle moment when the protagonist has no direction to go but forward.
    The rest of my structures are rather less precise than exact percentages, but I think they are mostly there. Son of a gun.
    The structure that I sort of followed was what I call the mountain range profile. The story gradually rises in ‘drama’ toward a peak about 2/3 the way through, drops a bit, then rises to the highest peak at about 7/8, the climax, then drops in a denouement to the end. It isn’t apparent in the stories. I don’t think you could nail the precise moment of anything.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      Crazy how that works, isn’t it? Good writers just tend to have a fundamental understanding of how to structure – because it’s also an understanding of what makes the story work.

  2. Super exciting! I can’t wait to delve into it! 🙂

  3. This looks really cool. I can’t wait to see it expand and grow! And I’m so glad you liked Little Dorrit! 🙂

    ~Schuyler
    http://www.ladybibliophile.blogspot.com

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      I adore Dickens. I was happy to get to revisit Little Dorrit as a bit of “research” for my historical superhero WIP, part of which is set in the Marshalsea.

  4. How awesome! This is going to be super fun and helpful to go through. Lately I have noticed myself paying even more attention to the structure of my favorite books and films, and I’ve also realized that many changes in move adaptations of novels come because of the scriptwriters trying to conform the story to a more traditional structure.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      Yes, it’s always fascinating to me to see how (and if) the structure changes when a book is adapted.

  5. Just took a quick spin through your new database. I’ve just completed your helpful and clearly applicable “Outlining Your Novel” and currently working through “Structuring Your Novel” both very helpful to a newbie fiction writer. Perfect timing for me to have this resource made available.
    Quick question, is there an “index” or a way to sort titles?… or is one planned? I didn’t see anything other than the search bar or clicking through the pages. Not wanting to seem greedy, although it’s true I would love MORE! … It would help to mine the gold you’ve gathered.
    Thank you for all the work, and I look forward to using and, you never know, maybe even making a contribution– in the future– as I learn this craft.
    Again, AWESOME work here. — from a grateful student

  6. Katie, this is awesome! What a huge amount of work too. I’m so glad you are doing this and will tell all my clients and friends to sign up and review all these structure analyses. I often tell my clients to tear apart books and movies to see where these key moments occur in order to better understand structure. a huge THANKS for putting this together!
    Susanne

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      Huge props go to the web team at Varick Design for making this work. It ended up being a lot trickier than I thought it would be! We’ve been working at it for almost year now, so I’m super excited to finally be able to share it.

  7. Impressive, well-done, and useful.

  8. Awesome work Katie. This will be a resource that the writing community has wanted for some time. A place where you can see the structure of books you consider inspirational and learn from the greats. Well done

  9. Dear Ms. Weiland, this idea is SUPER-FANTASTIC! A great help for readers and writers and for all who love stories.
    I’m ready to submit my entry, too 😀

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      Cool beans! If we get everyone contributing to this, we’ll have a tremendous resource before we know it.

  10. What a wonderful idea and tool. I am right brain dominant and one of the thing I have trouble with sometimes is breaking things down that are close to me. From a distance I do well, but stories feel close to me, because books and movies have always been my friends and companions. This well help me so much in learning how to see the breakdown. Once I “understand” the mechanics of something I get it. It becomes easier for me. I can do it now somewhat, but it is like I cannot see the whole forest, how it fits together and functions for the one tree. Thank you for this. I signed up.

  11. robert easterbrook says:

    All I can say right now is WOW!

  12. I can’t tell you how excited I am for this!! I have wished for something like this for a long time! It is so much easier for me to structure when I have some other structure to work from. Thank you! This is amazing!

  13. I read between 50-60 books a year and watch perhaps twice that many movies. Katie, I’m gobsmacked! (read: in awe of you) With all your work with “Helping Writers become Authors,” your own website, writing your help books, how on earth do you find time to read 50-60 books and watch twice that many movies a year? Do you have a miraculous super-food you eat? A personal hypnotist who hypnotises you every morning? Or do you simply not eat, sleep or go to the bathroom? Whatever it is, “I want what she’s having.”

  14. Ed Markel says:

    Wow, this is awesome. Much better than a moose farm — although that would have been WAY cool. This is going to help me and thick headed pantsers like me learn story structure. Thank you, Katie.

  15. Katie – great idea and wonderful service to the writing community.

  16. robert easterbrook says:

    I had set out to say that my stories don’t seem to fit your model very well. But that may have been because I misapplied the stages.

    My stories don’t have happy endings, so the ‘resolution’ – according to your model – has to be what those who survive resolve to do next.

    Therefore, for me, the ‘resolution’ in my stories must be about what those who survive resolve to do because things haven’t worked out the way they imagined.

    Would this the way to apply ‘resolution’ in your model (to my story writing)?

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      Definitely. The “Resolution” is just the closing scene that ties off whatever loose ends remain after the conflict ends in the Climactic Moment.

  17. Yowzers, kiddo, you did some serious work there. Thank you for everything you do to help us learn the craft. Excited about this new tool! (PS: I *love* The Ghost and Mrs. Muir*. One of my faves.)

  18. Brilliant, Katie! Thank you so much for all your effort – we’re all rewarded by it!

  19. This is going to help SO MANY WRITERS! Thank you so much for all your hard work, Katie! Sharing widely. 🙂

  20. KM, this is incredible. I can’t wait to devour all of these, and will be sharing (and adding) as well!

  21. I’m so excited about this! Thanks for doing this huge project. Your books and site have helped me so much.

  22. Thank you so much for this! It’s funny, just the other day I was wishing for a resource like this. Lo and behold!

  23. K.M., this is incredible! When I recently received one of your workbooks, I found myself thinking more deeply and clearly about my writing, and practicing what I read. Now that I have a big project in the initial phase, I am SO eager to view and use your wonderful database. 1000000000 thanks to you for helping us to improve our writing. You are a great teacher as well – kind, firm, clear, and obviously having fun while changing the world of writing!
    Best Wishes, Mary Ellen Latela

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      I’m so glad you’ve found the workbooks helpful! I think the database should be a good tool in addition to them.

  24. This is a good idea. I’ve always had a hard time finding most of the structural points in novels I’ve studied. Experimental fiction is the hardest to study.

    Lie Down in Darkness by William Styron and The Household of Bouverie by Catherine Warefield are two books I hope you add to the database.

  25. So KM, I’ve got four of your books and have been reading your blog and watching your videos for years. But this time, I finally HAD to post a comment. The Story Structure database? What an awesome educational tool! Such a huge help!! I mean, everything do you do is a huge help. But this is sooooo cool! Thank you so much—for all you do!

  26. What a brilliant resource – thank you! I look forward to browsing. Currently revising my manuscript using your “structure” book and these will be really useful learning.

  27. This is such a cool educational tool! I cannot wait to get into it. This so awesome of you to invest time and effort in making it easier for the rest of us. I read your blog daily and have all your tool books which really help and motivate me! Thank you!

  28. As a fellow Story Structure geek, I’m so excited about this project! I will definitely be linking to this database from my beat sheet page. 🙂

    Thanks for doing all this work and providing these examples for people!

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      Thanks, Jami! Much appreciated. And from one story structure geek to another, I hope you’ll contribute too! 😀

  29. Wow.

  30. this is fantastic!! I can’t wait to delve in. Such an awesome resourse tool!! Thank you.

  31. Another fabulous and convenient resource, Katie — thank you! Structuring Your Novel has become my favorite writing resource, and the examples of film and literature you provide to illustrate the major plot points, both in the book and here on your blog, have been tremendously helpful. I find myself trying to identify plot points now in every movie I watch, and in every novel I read. Thank you for your tireless effort in helping so many writers!

  32. What a fantastic resource! Thank you.

  33. Wow! Thanks! What an awesome idea. I’ve been trying to read a lot of those classics I was probably supposed to read years ago and I think this will be a great help in understanding their mechanics.

    I’ve been reading Jurassic Park again with the intent to figure out its structure but I’m discovering that I’m really bad at pinpointing specific scenes. Would love to see this one added to see if I’m kind of right in my assessment. Oddly, I feel a lot more confident in picking out those scenes in my own WIPs but that’s probably because your workbooks ask beautiful questions. 🙂

  34. That project sounds amazing!

  35. Emilyn Wood says:

    I think it would be splendid if you included the word count and/or number of pages/chapters in the book as well as the structure. I started to do something similar in a document so that I could get a good idea of it all.
    Knowing what the inciting incident is is valuable.
    I didn’t see Jane Eyre in the database. I’d really like to find that one in it.

  36. Lisa Godfrees says:

    This is so very helpful. Thank you for putting this together and letting us use it for free!

  37. This is so amazing. I’ve only just started breaking down novels I love, to help me understand structure, which has been my biggest hurdle.

    As soon as I feel confident that what I’ve done is right, I’ll try to add the ones I’m working on. The first novel in the Expanse series, Leviathan Wakes, is the only one I feel pretty good about, but I’ll try to add that soon.

    Thank you so much for this, the time, resources, and the hard work – it’s truly revolutionary!

  38. This is amazing, thank you so much for putting this together and letting us access it for free!! It’s both extremely helpful and also super interesting (even when you’re not trying to write anything, I think it’s cool to have a look at the structure of novels and see all the plot points and turns and the way it’s structured).
    Lots of Kudos and Hugs for you since that’s about all I can contribute with. 😉

  39. Steve MC says:

    I recently read your post on pinch points and didn’t feel I quite got it, ’cause I usually need lots of examples. Now I got them and how. From classic novels and movies to the new X-Men one I’m halfway through (and even Tron!), there’s a wealth of info here to browse through and learn from. Many thanks!

  40. Cool jelly beans 🙂

    This is my first dab at the database. I’ll be taking a look around and maybe even upload some from time to time!

  41. Ok, I’m pumped and motivates to add some of my own to this database. What a cool idea! My first will be from the two books in the Patrick Bowers series by Steven James, a master storyteller. The Pawn and the Rook. Both excellent reads. I’m hoping to finish the Rook by tomorrow then I’ll submit it.

    Cheers to story structure.

    Sail on!

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      Excellent! The database has been rolling along for right about a year now. It’s growing by leaps and bounds thanks to all its contributors!

  42. K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

    I like those words. 😉

Trackbacks

  1. […] MORE HERE Story Structure Database  You can help add to this wonderful resource tool.  Check it […]

  2. […] Story structure database — Fiction author, author mentor and podcaster K.M. Weiland has created this archive of books and movies, recording all their major plot points. I love this idea, and personally learn best when I can see examples of the theory. Plus readers are invited to submit their own story structure breakdowns! […]

  3. […] Uncover the Structure of Your Favorite Books & Movies: The Story Structure Database! via @KMWeiland h/t @bullishink […]

  4. […] Want to Know More About the Structure of Your Favorite Books and Movies? Announcing the Story Struct… […]

  5. […] Weiland introduces the Story Structure Database, and excellent new resource for writers. You can contribute to it, […]

  6. […] Story Structure Database  You can help add to this free wonderful resource tool.  Check it out! From K. M. Weiland:  Today, I’m super excited to get to put an end to the guessing and unveil what I hope will be a fabulous resource for all of us. What is it? The official Story Structure Database.  What Is the Story Structure Database?  That’s easy. The Story Structure Database is an archive of books and movies, recording all their major plot points: […]

  7. […] given us writers a new invaluable resource to learn art&craft of beautiful, compelling stories. The Story Structure Database is finally online, and I’m sure I’m going to spend a lot of my writer’s time […]

  8. […] Weiland presents Want to Know More About the Structure of Your Favorite Books and Movies? Announcing the Story Struct… posted at Helping Writers Become Authors, saying, “The Story Structure Database …read […]

  9. […] Story Structure Database  You can help add to this wonderful resource tool.  Check it out! From K. M. Weiland:  Today, I’m super excited to get to put an end to the guessing and unveil what I hope will be a fabulous resource for all of us. What is it? The official Story Structure Database.  What Is the Story Structure Database?  That’s easy. The Story Structure Database is an archive of books and movies, recording all their major plot points: […]

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