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:
- Inciting Event (12% mark)
- First Plot Point (25% mark)
- First Pinch Point (37% mark)
- Midpoint (50% mark)
- Second Pinch Point (62% mark)
- Third Plot Point (75% mark)
- Climax (88% mark)
- Climactic Moment (end of conflict)
- Resolution (end of story)
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?
Ever 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).
- 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.)
- Use the search bar at the top of the right column to browse for specific titles.
- Use the drop-down menu halfway down the right column to browse titles by genre.
- Use the (reader-requested) Story Structure Database Index to access the complete list of titles in the Database, provided in alphabetical order.
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
- Go to the database home page.
- Look for the “Click to Upload a Story Structure” button.
- 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?
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