How to Structure a Story

Real talk here – I’m not what you’d call a “classically trained” writer. I don’t have any literary degrees. I haven’t even taken writing courses. I’m just a guy with stories and characters tumbling around in my head, and I’ve finally reached the point where I have to get all of that out of there to make room for other things. Not necessarily important things, just… well, other things.


For any writer, especially ones dripping with noobsauce like me, getting the ball rolling can be difficult. Keeping it rolling, even moreso. From what I can see, many writers out there seem to have this innate ability to just turn that thought-valve all the way open and let their ideas spill all over their keyboard. For them, that’s creative gold. For me, I’d have more success pouring my coffee all over the keyboard.

So when I read this article by Ali Hale about the Eight-Point Story Arc, (originally outlined in Nigel Watts‘ book Writing A Novel and Getting Published) it was like I’d just stumbled across the Golden Ticket. I found this just as I was considering putting together a short story, one that I’d use as an introduction (of sorts) to the series I want to develop. Within minutes, everything seemed to fall into place.

The eight points, in order, are:

  1. Stasis
  2. Trigger
  3. The quest
  4. Surprise
  5. Critical choice
  6. Climax
  7. Reversal
  8. Resolution

Now you too know the secret, grasshopper. What’s that? What do each of those points mean, exactly? Check out the article for yourself for a full description of each point (and if you missed the link above for the article, HERE it is again), especially for writers who are just starting out and are having trouble getting out of the proverbial starting blocks.

Hope it helps. Now get writing.



One comment on “How to Structure a Story

  1. I didn’t follow a defined structure for my first book because a) I thought I was a pantser and b) I’ve read so many books, the structure just comes naturally, right?

    Big mistake.

    I don’t think that it matters much which of the gazillion story arc formulas you follow, but readers have expectations. Following some kind of formula helps meet those expectations.

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