I live by this. I have built my Scrivener template around this structure and it really works well for short stories. I’ve also worked my novel plot through the same structure (though that’s a bit more complicated).

Please refer to Daily Writing Tips: the 8 point arc , drawn from Nigel Watts ‘Teach yourself Writing a Novel.’

Also, never miss looking at Scrivener. It really is the best writing tool ever.

The eight points which Watts lists are:

  1. Stasis – the everyday life starting point where everything is in balance(but tense).
  2. Trigger – something beyond control of protagonist that triggers the story.
  3. The quest – this is usually a quest to return to the status quo.
  4. Surprise – the meat of the story where there are plenty of obstacles and complications to prevent returning to balance.
  5. Critical choice – MOST important – the protagonist needs to make a critical choice at some point. Choose between good and evil, easy and hard, etc.
  6. Climax – the choice that was taken results in a climax to the story.
  7. Reversal – one more reversal. It needs to be credible and possible, even probable and flagged earlier as likely,
  8. Resolution – final resolution and return to a fresh statis.

Previously I found that my short stories lacked punch or tension. It is important to make sure that steps 4, 5, 6 and 7 are really fleshed out fully and there are a number of set backs for the protagonist to deal with. My stories have definitely improved as a result of this, and I am compiling a series of them to publish soon.

Important note: I also find that starting with step 2, Trigger, and filling in step 1 later is a more compelling start to the story.

Hope that’s interesting, comments welcome.

Next time – pics and media…