A character has a problem. They meet a guide who gives them a plan, calling them to action. The end result is a success. That’s your basic story structure. It’s in every movie or tv show you’ve watched and every book you’ve read. In between, our character works toward overcoming external and internal obstacles. And in some stories, philosophical ones.
Our character is a writer who came across a flyer. The flyer is advertising an upcoming writing competition at their community college. They’re juggling a full-time job and going to school full-time. Let’s take it up a notch: they’re also a single parent. Now it’s looking like they’ll ignore the writing competition.
What does that say?
The First Place prize is $500?!
Now they have to enter the competition. What will it mean for them if they win? The toddler needs new clothes, groceries are running low. And a nice fancy dinner wouldn’t hurt either.
Now, you have your inciting incident.
You can find this type of “beat” in almost any story you come across.
I might not be in college anymore, but the stakes are still quite real. Bills are piling up, my daughter needs new clothes, and groceries are running out. Let’s throw a wrench into the mix: business has been incredibly slow, too. My Patreon account is one opportunity in overcoming some of these challenges. That’s my inciting incident.
What are some other story structures? There are seven (7) in total.
- Freytag’s Pyramid
- The Hero’s Journey
- Three Act Structure
- Dan Harmon’s Story Circle
- Fichtean Curve
- Save the Cat Beat Sheet
- Seven-Point Story Structure
In my next blog post, I’ll go over each of these story structures and how each works in each story.
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