The Secrets of Story Structure (Complete Series)

The Secrets of Story Structure (Complete Series)

The Secrets of Story StructureIf there’s just one thing that matters to your success as a writer, it’s story structure. Story structure is what allows authors to create stories that work every single time. Story structure is what allows you to quickly diagnose and remedy plot problems.

The fear that story structure is formulaic and difficult couldn’t be further from the truth. Story structure changed my life. The moment the foundational principles of this all-important technique clicked into place for me was the moment I came of age as a writer. Now it’s your turn!

>>Click here to read hundreds of story-structure analyses of books and books in the Story Structure Database.

In the “Secrets of Story Structure” blog series (which is the basis for my award-winning book Structuring Your Novel and its companion Structuring Your Novel Workbook), you’ll learn:

  • Why structure is make-or-break territory for every novel
  • How to implement a strong three-act structure
  • How to bring your story to life
  • How to ensure your story is built to have the greatest possible impact on readers.

Want to claim the title of Author? An understanding of story structure is where writers become authors!

Part 1: Why Should Authors Care About Story Structure?

What’s the single most overlooked, misunderstood—and yet most important—part of storytelling? If you cheated and looked at the title, you already know the answer is structure.

Part 2: The Hook

Unless you hook readers into your story from the very first chapter, they won’t swim in deep enough to experience the rest of your rousing adventure, no matter how excellent it is. The Hook comes in many forms, but stripped down to its lowest common denominator, the hook is nothing more or less than a question.

Part 3: The First Act

The first 20-25% of the book comprises your setup. At first glance, this can seem like a tremendous chunk of story to devote to introductions, but if you expect readers to stick with you throughout the story, you first have to give them a reason to care.

Part 4: The First Plot Point

The First Plot Point changes everything. But this isn’t just an event that happens to the protagonist. This is an event that either incorporates or is directly followed by the character’s reacting in a strong and irrevocable way

Part 5: Inciting Event and Key Event

The first quarter of your story hinges upon two important and irreversible moments: the Inciting Event and the Key Event. Now that you have a sense of the Hook, the First Act, and the First Plot Point, you can see more clearly how and where the Inciting and Key events affect these moments.

Part 6: The First Half of the Second Act

This First Half of the Second Act is where your characters find the time and space to react to the First Plot Point. That reaction, which will lead to another reaction and another and another, launches your Second Act.

Part 7: The Midpoint

Legendary director Sam Peckinpah talked about how he always looked for a “centerpiece” on which to “hang” his story. That centerpiece is your Second Plot Point, or Midpoint, which divides your Second Act.

Part 8: The Second Half of the Second Act

The Second Half of the Second Act is where your plot really starts popping. Your main character caps the dramatic event at the Midpoint with the decision to stop reacting and start acting.

Part 9: The Third Act

Like all the other acts, the Third Act opens with a bang, but unlike the other acts, it never lets up. From the 75% mark on, the characters and the readers alike are in for a wild ride.

Part 10: The Climax

The Climax of a story should have readers on the edges of their seats. If you’ve done your job, they should have a general idea of what’s coming (thanks to artful foreshadowing), but they should also be suffering under the exquisite torture of more than a shade or two of doubt.

Part 11: The Resolution

Your story and its conflict officially ended with your Climax. Conceivably, you could end your story right then and there. But most books need an extra scene or two to tie off any leftover loose ends and, just as importantly, to guide your readers to the emotion with which you want to leave them.

Part 12: Your Questions Answered

Because of its fixed nature, story structure, once learned, is easy to grasp. However, it’s also a subject that inspires endless questions.

6 More FAQs About Story Structure

Have more questions about story structure? The best way to find good answers is to ask good questions. Here are six excellent questions about story structure.

More Story Structure Posts

Your Book’s Inciting Event: It’s Not What You Think It Is

The trouble with identifying the Inciting Event is that the term is applied rather wildly to half a dozen different moments in the story. Which is right?

Never Confuse the Key Event and the First Plot Point in Your Book Again!

Did you know a full understanding of the Key Event, its role in story structure, and its timing will help you write stronger First Plot Points?

What Are Pinch Points? And How Can They Make Your Book Easier to Write?

What are pinch points? Of all the important moments in your story, they are most likely to be neglected. But they’re crucial to your story structure.

How the Perfect Midpoint Moves Your Protagonist From Reaction to Action

When your story’s Midpoint properly facilitates the all-important shift in the middle of your story, your conflict is sure to progress in a powerful way.

Want Readers to Adore Your Book? Learn How to Ace Your Climactic Moment

The Climactic Moment is the reason your story is even being told in the first place. Needless to say, it’s pretty important you get it right. Find out how!

How to Choose Your Story’s Plot Points

Learn how your story’s plot points can be rearranged and strengthened to create a more powerful overall effect for your readers.

4 Ways to Prevent Formulaic Story Structure

Worried about formulaic story structure? Learn four ways to find the perfect balance between utilizing structure and unleashing your originality.

To learn more about story structure, click here for a full list of all my posts on the subject.

Ready to take your understanding of story structure to the next level? Join my mailing list to grab my free e-book and learn five “secret” techniques of advanced story structure.

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