Basic story structures

According to Pixar (in part),

Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.



Jim Shooter,

Introduce the character

Little Miss Muffett

Introduce the status quo

Sat on a tuffett, eating her curds and whey

Establish the antagonist and conflict

Along came a spider

Build suspense

And sat down beside her

Rising conflict

And frightened Miss Muffet

Resolution of the conflict and story denouement all at once




Algis Budrys,

  1. A character,
  2. in a situation,
  3. with a problem,
  4. who tries repeatedly to solve the problem,
  5. but repeatedly fails, (usually making the problem worse),
  6. then, at the climax of the story, makes a final attempt (which might either succeed or fail, depending on the kind of story it is), after which
  7. the result is restated in a way that demonstrates it was, in fact, the final result



Geoffrey A. Landis,

  1. Require the character to make a choice,
  2. show that choice by actions, and
  3. allow actions to have consequences.



and Steve Barthelme: “A story follows an active character through emotionally charged experiences which changes him or her.”

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