6 Ways to Craft Spectacular Set-Piece Scenes

What are set-piece scenes? They’re the big ones. They’re the scenes that define your story, not just in terms of plot mechanics, but particularly in terms of scope and impact. These are the scenes your audience will remember when they think about your story. They’re the scenes they’ll remember even when they’ve forgotten everything else about […]

Archetypes and Story Structure: How They’re Connected

By its very nature, story structure is archetypal. It is a pattern we recognize emerging from story. It is a pattern as big as life itself, and therefore one about which we are always learning more, but it is also a pattern we have been able to distill into specific systems that help us consistently […]

Making Story Structure Your Own

Over the past decade, the term “story structure” has largely come to refer to plot points and beat sheets. When writers start talking about structure, many of us assume they’re talking about the specific and even archetypal shape of story—the rise and fall of plot, the causal balance of action and reaction, the transformational journey […]

Conflict in Fiction: What It Really Is and Why It’s Important to Plot

Conflict is one of the central engines of story. We’ve all heard it: no conflict, no story. On the surface, that makes total sense. But I find there can be a lot of confusion around the word “conflict.” What is conflict in fiction really? What is its purpose? What does it look like in a […]

The Two Halves of the Climactic Moment

The Climactic Moment is the story in microcosm. The Climactic Moment is where the protagonist’s final relationship to the plot goal is determined by definitive success or failure, as is the character’s relationship to the thematic Lie and Truth. Although the events of the Climactic Moment might not be the “biggest” of the story, they […]

The Two Halves of the Third Plot Point

Like all the major structural turning points, the Third Plot Point is made up of two halves—which work together to create a scene arc (even though, technically, the entire arc of the beat might be told over the course of a scene sequence made up of many scenes). The halves that create this arc are […]

The Two Halves of the Midpoint

The Midpoint is unique among the major structural turning points. Not only is it made up of its own two individual halves—working together to create a scene arc—but the Midpoint also marks the dividing line between the two halves of the entire story arc. As we explored last year in our series on chiastic structure […]

The Two Halves of the First Plot Point

The First Plot Point is one of the most important turning points within the entire structure of story. As with all of the major structural beats, the idea of a “turning point” offers the inherent concept of two halves: turning away from one thing/state into another thing/state. The First Plot Point is often referred to […]

The Two Halves of the Inciting Event

Stories are made of scenes. By one of their simplest definitions, scenes are transitions. They signify a change of some sort—an arc. They start in one place (whether a physical place or an abstract “place”), and they end in another. This is how we determine whether something happens in a scene and whether it “moves […]

Archetypal Character Arcs, Pt. 9: The Maiden’s Shadow Archetypes

In so many ways, we view life as a story. Within the lifelong journey of this story, the first challenge is that of becoming an autonomous individual—an independent and responsible adult. However obvious that may be, the journey itself cannot be taken for granted. Indeed, although we may all grow up chronologically, the struggle to […]