Last week, I looked through the list of 25 story structures I found in various places. I’ve narrowed the list I’m sharing to 19. Where I could, I added a video clip of someone explaining the story structure in detail. You should be able to find more videos in case you want to dig a little deeper. Here are a few other considerations you should have:
- A few on the list were redundant (same structure, different name). That is why the list got smaller.
- Story and story structure is used across art forms. The examples below will come from films, writing, oral storytelling, and more. Depending on the art form, the terms that are used may differ.
- Sometimes people refer story structure as plotting a story or outlining a story, but I am finding these as different ways of saying the same thing
- Beats are = plot points = points in a story that something significant happens to move the story forward
- Many of these story structures have common parts. (i.e. all refer to having characters). How they are used or connected in the structure may be different.
- Some of the structures that are used in film or screenwriting originated from how the industry operates (the Film Courage videos talk more of these things)
- A number of the story structures were reversed engineered. Someone looked at what stories were working, saw what they had in common, and then codified a process (structure) for telling stories that are engaging
- I found it interesting that there are a few movies, such as Parasite, where different sources stated different story structures applied to what was used. (For this movie Save the Cat, The 3 Act, and Kishōtenketsu were all claimed to be used). This further solidifies for me that any of these structures are usable, the real work is in which one to use. All of these work well enough to try, but not all of these are necessary for you. In next week’s post, I plan to explore choosing the best structure for you to use when telling a story.
Since there are so many, it may take a min to get through them all. Honestly, if you really under a few, you’ll do well with telling stories. Still, I think making your way through the list will help those working on telling a story orally to be more effective in telling that story.
- 3 Act Story Structure
- 4 Act Story Structure
- 5 Act Story Structure (sometimes called 5 milestone story structure)
- Michael Hague’s 6-stage plot structure
- 7 Act Story Structure
- 8 Sequence Approach to writing a screenplay
- 12 Sequences
- Eric Edson’s Story solution (23 actions all great heroes must take)
- Jill Chamberlin’s The Nutshell technique
- Story Map
- Save the Cat
- Hero’s Journey
- The Jules Selbo 11-step model
- Freytag’s Pyramid
- Kurt Vonnegut 8 shapes of stories
- The Dan Harman Story Circle
- The Fichtean Curve
- Randy Ingermanson’s snowflake method