Using Structure in Your Story: Different Structures to Consider

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:

  1. A few on the list were redundant (same structure, different name). That is why the list got smaller.
  2. 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. 
    1. 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
    2. Beats are = plot points = points in a story that something significant happens to move the story forward
  3. 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.
  4. 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)
  5. 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
  6. 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.

The List

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.

  1. 3 Act Story Structure
    1. https://youtu.be/XIUOthMFAi8
  2. 4 Act Story Structure
    1. https://youtu.be/EmM-IsjwKNQ
  3. 5 Act Story Structure (sometimes called 5 milestone story structure)
    1. https://youtu.be/5P-U099IE0k
    2. https://self-publishingschool.com/story-structure/?channel=Organic&medium=Google%20-%20Search#milestones
  4. Michael Hague’s 6-stage plot structure
    1. https://youtu.be/tQTmlA_ve2s
  5. 7 Act Story Structure
    1. https://youtu.be/vxEhlxTh07k
  6. 8 Sequence Approach to writing a screenplay
    1. https://youtu.be/bLMpNwOIfSY
  7. 12 Sequences
    1. https://youtu.be/jHO8kmBjvCo
  8. Eric Edson’s Story solution (23 actions all great heroes must take)
    1. https://youtu.be/tLB-HlNEhpw
  9. Jill Chamberlin’s The Nutshell technique 
    1. https://youtu.be/_AH1aw60hDA
  10. Story Map
    1. https://youtu.be/SMs-3peoYRM
  11. Save the Cat
    1. https://youtu.be/Oi3PCkk7RsU
  12. Hero’s Journey
    1. https://youtu.be/-XGUVkOmPTA
  13. The Jules Selbo 11-step model 
    1. https://youtu.be/PuaqGiH2C_c
    2. https://patverducci.com/solve-your-story-structure-problems-in-eleven-easy-steps/
  14. Freytag’s Pyramid
    1. https://writers.com/freytags-pyramid
    2. https://youtu.be/qiRoZ6fZx5w
  15. Kurt Vonnegut 8 shapes of stories
    1. https://bigthink.com/high-culture/vonnegut-shapes/
    2. https://youtu.be/GOGru_4z1Vc
  16. The Dan Harman Story Circle
    1. https://youtu.be/-XGUVkOmPTA
  17. The Fichtean Curve
    1. https://youtu.be/EyO6E1ggR2o
  18. Kishōtenketsu
    1. https://youtu.be/ntgmIiV8O0g
    2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kish%C5%8Dtenketsu
  19. Randy Ingermanson’s snowflake method
    1. https://youtu.be/PyZkFcMjKJQ

Published by Nick Baskerville

After years of being an instructor in the military and the and the fire service, I realized I needed to improve my delivery. My students needed me to improve delivery. But how do I improve my delivery? Simple. I finally took a member of Toastmasters up on the invitation to come to a meeting. It wasn't long until I joined. Along the way of improving my skills at delivering a message, I came to understand that of all the ways to get a point across, telling stories is the best way to get it done. Around this time, another friend from Toastmasters told me about The Moth monthly story telling shows. What better way to test out my theories on storytelling. It's in my travels there to the shows that I found more and more shows, and classes, and events centered around storytelling. Despite how many people know about the storytelling world, not many people know about the storytelling world. So now, I'm out to tell the world about storytelling.

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