Character arc (aka the internal plot) is essential for a satisfying story structure. You might have tension on every page and you might follow what you think is a winning structure, but if you don’t have a character arc, your story will fail to resonate with readers. Learn the key concepts for character arcs here.
The beginning has two roles: a structural one and a functional one. Here, I present a way of thinking about the first act’s plot points that may help you reconcile the need to hook the reader with the need to portray the so-called “normal world” of the story.
Causality governs story events. You want your story to feel authentic, believable, and seamless. You don’t want any of the events or reactions within the story to draw attention to themselves. They must be earned. This article examines common failures to earn story developments.
“Escalating complications” is my preferred term for what’s commonly known as “rising action.” What is rising action? And how can you use it to maintain reader engagement in the middles of your scenes and stories? We take a lesson from iguanas and snakes here.
I’m very much a believer that writers must find the methods that work best for them. But just as a musician must first understand something about the structure of music (rhythm, tempo, scales, etc.) to be able to invent and improvise, so, too, must a story writer have some understanding of the structure of story.
My previous article featured a list of novel structure resources. Having combed through that list, I found some common ground among the various paradigms I investigated. This post features a video in which I walk through the plot points I saw over and over again in my research.
I’ve done an exhaustive exploration of novel and story structure advice. Below, I’ve assembled what is more or less a bibliography. Consider this a list of resources more than the typical craft tip article. Bookmark this one and come back to it for future reads.
What if you want to write a story other than the redemption tale? The hero’s journey and a slew of other plot outlines will provide little help to you because built into their structural guide is a latter section of the story that is exactly what Macbeth isn’t—an ultimate sacrifice, followed by an epiphany-induced power surge, and a final push toward a (spiritual) full potential.