Archetypal Character Arcs, Pt. 3: The Hero Arc

Ah, the hero. Heroic stories are so important and so prevalent throughout the history of storytelling that the word “hero” itself has become all but synonymous with that of “protagonist.” That the Hero Arc is in fact but one of many important archetypal character arcs does not lessen its importance within the cycle. The Hero’s […]

Archetypal Character Arcs, Pt. 2: The Maiden Arc

The First Act of the human experience—roughly the first thirty years—may be thought of as a period of Initiation. It is a period of integrating the parts of one’s self. In many ways, it is a period in which the overarching, symbolic antagonist may be thought of as Fear. We use the arcs of this […]

An Introduction to Archetypal Stories

All art is necessarily both reflective and generative of the human experience. And in that way, all art both reflects and generates archetype. Some stories do this more simply and obviously than others. Those stories that we recognize as myth or fable are most blatantly archetypal. But even hyper-realistic stories—when they are well done—offer up […]

Story Theory and the Quest for Meaning

Story has been our constant companion throughout the journey of human existence. Why is that? Modern audiences are inundated and entranced by advanced storytelling. But stories have been with us from as far back as we can remember. Is it because they entertain us? Is it because they inform us? Because they distract us? Yes, […]

5 Questions About Scene Sequences

In many ways story structure is a fractal pattern. The same patterns we find on the macro level of the entire story arc also repeat themselves, within an ever-tightening spiral, from scene structure all the way down to sentence structure. Somewhere in between story and scene, we find scene sequences. Within the story’s larger narrative, […]

The Power of Chiastic Story Structure (Especially in a Series)

When writers put on their story theorist caps, nothing is more exciting than those moments when you get to recognize consistent patterns emerging within obvious story forms. This is the basis of all of our understanding (and musing) about story, including the chiastic story structure we’ve been studying these past few months. Although writers sometimes […]

The Midpoint as the Swivel Point of Your Story’s Linked Structure

The “saggy middle” of a story is one of the biggest challenges writers face. The Second Act is twice as long as the other two acts and yet is often less clearly defined. What’s a writer to do to keep the pacing just as tight and the events just as interesting over the long haul […]

The Link Between Your Story’s Pinch Points

Of all the paired structural beats in a story, the Pinch Points are perhaps the most obvious. There are only two of them, they have the same name, and they perform essentially the same function in both their first and second iteration. They’re also perhaps the least known and most confusing of all the major […]

The Link Between Your Story’s First Plot Point and Third Plot Point

I often talk about cohesion and resonance as being two of the most important qualities of great stories. Many factors are involved in achieving these effects, but one of the subtlest and yet most powerful is found within the structure of story itself. This is the hidden “circle” of story structure, in which all the important […]

The Link Between Your Story’s Hook and Resolution

On a theoretical level, art often comes down to patterns. As readers and even writers we are not always conscious of these patterns, but whenever we are able to recognize that a story works—or does not work—usually what we are responding to is the comparative effectiveness of certain underlying patterns. This is perhaps nowhere more […]