Story Structure Templates
What is a Story Structure?
So, you want to write a story?
When writing a story of any kind it helps to have a template to guide your plot and keep you on track. Have you ever noticed that most stories seem to follow the same few patterns? Maybe you remember learning in school about different plot structures that created most epic stories like The Odyssey or even Star Wars and Harry Potter. Have you noticed that most rom-coms also have their own plot structure that they seem to follow? Or maybe you are a lover of theater and familiar with the 3 act structure? These all follow the same concept of using a narrative structure to help format their story so the overall flow is well timed and structured. It is as easy as outlining the plot to make sure you hit the key elements or plot beats that are needed for the stories progression.
It is true, using a plot structure is essentially a formula that gives you the blueprint for how to create your story, but that doesn’t mean your story will feel predictable or formulaic. Writers have been structuring books this way for centuries! If you think back to your favorite books and movies you can start to see some of these structures used but because they all focus on different topics and dramatic events they don’t feel the same at all.
Let’s start with the basics. The goal of a plot structure is to put all of the elements of a story into the correct order so the reader or audience has the most enjoyment. Narrative is driven by two things, plot, or the events that happen in your story, and story elements which are the underlying factors that drive everything and everyone. A well structured plot shows the reader what is happening and also what it actually means. It connects what actually matters with events in the book. Narrative structure is what keeps a story from simply being a dry retelling of events. It keeps readers focused on the central conflict of events and also the character’s development, tying together the emotion and takeaways with the things that happen.
3 Act Structure
Different plot templates will have different numbers of acts of phases that the journey progresses through. The standard narrative structure for plays, movies, and many books is called a 3-act structure.
It is made up of three separate acts that we break out further below using the base of the hero’s journey. If you are looking at the three act structure in the Hero’s Journey you find the first act called the departure, the second act is the initiation, and the third act is the return. Other templates may call them different names but most are relatively similar. They all guide the hero out on a journey and to their final destination.
Makes up the first 25% of the story.
Act 1 sets the initial background for your protagonist.
It launches them on their adventure giving them a reason to break out of their regular routine.
This act is where you hook your readers attention and make them excited to continue reading the story.
Begin the training montage where you meet the person or people that will help guide your hero and teach them what they need to succeed.
Makes up 25-75% of the story.
This act is the bulk of the book.
It is where the character development happens and the hero becomes transformed from their initial normal self and life.
More minor challenges and struggles continue their training.
They are given a moment to regroup and strategize.
Makes up the final 25% of your novel.
The final battle has arrived. First the hero is catapulted back into their journey and given the catalyst to bring them to their final conflict.
The climax of the story should be the final conflict where the hero uses all of their new skills to defeat their antagonist or solve the original problem that sent them on their journey.
Finally the return to their ordinary world highlights how much they have grown from their journey and shows that their sacrifices were worthwhile.
How to Write a Story
Plotters Not Pantsers
Now I know, this is a bold statement. Some of you out there love writing by the seat of your pants. It works for you to simply wing it and see where the story flows. But for most of us we need some structure to help us when we get stuck. Sure we love sitting down with a nice cup of tea and writing whatever brilliant creative plot bunny jumps in our heads but writing a full story gets long and hard! All of us hit points of writer’s block where we want to give up in frustration. And this point is when being a plotter is magical!
You are able to overcome writers block by having a plan! You know what comes next in your story. How actions twist and turn and surprise your reader. You don’t have to go back to the beginning to add in little details because you’ve changed major plot points midway through a book. Having a structured template to work off of takes away the tough parts of writing. You still get full creativity and the joy of sitting at your favorite coffee shop whipping out page after page. You simply have a magic tool to rescue you when you are stuck!
Another benefit of plotting on an existing template is that you are able to mock up story ideas quickly and orderly so you can save future projects without losing where you are! I hate it when I get inspired but don’t want to get distracted from my current project (I would literally never get anything done if I jumped around as frequently as my brain wants me to!)
Plot Structure Samples
Romancing The Beat
Do you love writing love stories?
I know I do! This is my favorite plot structure to follow when writing anything in the romance genre. It reminds me to tease out emotional connections and hilarious meet cutes. It helps me pace heartbreaking betrayals and find the perfect reconciliations! It is actually a four phase structure, check out a sample above! Or download the templates for the full, editable versions!
Have you ever read your favorite romance book and wished you could write a love story just as good? I bet that you can do it with the help of this amazing template! Come on, you know you want to give it a shot! Did you know romance is the best selling category on kindle?
What others say
The Hero's Journey
Lights, camera, action!
The classic set up for epic stories is the hero's journey! It has been around for centuries and is used to tell some of "classics". Ever read the Odyssey? That was written to follow the hero's journey. Or maybe, it is better to say that the hero's journey is modeled after that epic adventure!
This is broken into a 3-act structure that follows a main character on an adventure of growth and learning! You find mentors and allies, you fight enemies and face trials.
Download the template today!