Basic story structures

according to 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


and 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 “validated” in a way that makes it clear that what we saw was, in fact, the final result

and Geoffrey A. Landis

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