Monday, February 9, 2015

Story Structure and Story Arc

Story Structure
Story One
- the chain of events that brings the protagonist to their knees.
Heart of the Story - death of the old belief system accompanied by insights into one's higher nature.
Story Two - the far side of the crisis, where the protagonist demonstrates a new worldview.

Story Arc
Exposition - the protagonist's normal life, up to the point of the "inciting incident" or "call to action" hat pushes them into conflict.

Rising Action - The conflicts, struggles, and pitfalls that the protagonist faces while trying to achieve their goals. In three act structure, the second act, and usually the longest portion of the story.

Climax - The point at which all seems possible or impossible, and the protagonist must decide whether to go for the win or take a graceful failure. The turning point of the story where conflict occurs.

Falling Action - The unfolding events after the climax. The protagonist wins or loses, all loose ends are tied up.

Denouement - The return to normal life once again (different from or same as exposition?)

Seven Basic Plots

Overcoming the Monster
The protagonist sets out to defeat an antagonistic force that threatens the protagonist and/or their homeland.

Rags to Riches
The poor protagonist acquires things such as power, wealth, and a mate, before losing it all and gaining it back upon growing as a person.

The Quest
The protagonist and some companions set out to acquire an important object to get to a location, facing many obstacles and temptations along the way.

Voyage and Return
The protagonist goes to a strange land and, after overcoming the threats it poses to them, returns with nothing but experience.

The protagonists are destined to be in love, but something is keeping them from being together, which is resolved by the end of the story.

The protagonist is a villain who falls from grace and whose death is a happy ending.


The protagonist is a villain or otherwise unlikable character who redeems themselves over the course of the story.

The Monomyth

1.      THE ORDINARY WORLD.  The hero, uneasy, uncomfortable or unaware, is introduced sympathetically so the audience or reader can identify with the situation or dilemma.  The hero is shown against a background of environment, heredity, and personal history.  Some kind of polarity in the hero’s life is pulling in different directions and causing stress.

2.       THE CALL TO ADVENTURE.  Something shakes up the situation, either from external pressures or from something rising up from deep within, so the hero must face the beginnings of change.

3.       REFUSAL OF THE CALL.  The hero feels the fear of the unknown and tries to turn away from the adventure, however briefly.  Alternately, another character may express the uncertainty and danger ahead.

4.       MEETING WITH THE MENTOR.  The hero comes across a seasoned traveler of the worlds who gives him or her training, equipment, or advice that will help on the journey.  Or the hero reaches within to a source of courage and wisdom.

5.       CROSSING THE THRESHOLD.  At the end of Act One, the hero commits to leaving the Ordinary World and entering a new region or condition with unfamiliar rules and values.

6.       TESTS, ALLIES AND ENEMIES.  The hero is tested and sorts out allegiances in the Special World.

7.       APPROACH.  The hero and newfound allies prepare for the major challenge in the Special world.

8.       THE ORDEAL.  Near the middle of the story, the hero enters a central space in the Special World and confronts death or faces his or her greatest fear.  Out of the moment of death comes a new life.

9.       THE REWARD.  The hero takes possession of the treasure won by facing death.  There may be celebration, but there is also danger of losing the treasure again.

10.   THE ROAD BACK.  About three-fourths of the way through the story, the hero is driven to complete the adventure, leaving the Special World to be sure the treasure is brought home.  Often a chase scene signals the urgency and danger of the mission.

11.   THE RESURRECTION.  At the climax, the hero is severely tested once more on the threshold of home.  He or she is purified by a last sacrifice, another moment of death and rebirth, but on a higher and more complete level.  By the hero’s action, the polarities that were in conflict at the beginning are finally resolved.

12.   RETURN WITH THE ELIXIR.  The hero returns home or continues the journey, bearing some element of the treasure that has the power to transform the world as the hero has been transformed.