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The Curious Cat Blog is all about writing, for writers, by a writer.

 

Story Stuck? Use This Writing Structure.

Carina Sitkus

The production for this conference was unreal.

The production for this conference was unreal.

I just got back from Story 2017, a storytelling conference in Nashville.

There were lots of takeaways I could share here, but I'm going to go with the practical and provide you with a simple tool/structure that was presented by Matthew Luhn, a writer and storyteller whose had a hand in making many of your favorite movies at Pixar.

I heard him talk on the first day at the conference, but he also gave a pre-conference workshop on storytelling, which I didn't have the opportunity to attend.

I happened to sit next to someone during a session who shared the materials with me, and now I'm going to share them with you. So forgive the lack of "story" around this, as I can't share any anecdotes or examples--I wouldn't dare think I could do Matthew's talk justice, anyway--but it's a pretty self explanatory tool that I think may help you if you're stuck.

It's a series of simple phrases that summarize the structure of any good story. 

Story Spine

Once upon a time...
and every day...
until one day...
and because of that...
and because of that...
and because of that...
until finally...
and since that day...
the moral of the story is...

I think this is applicable to any type of writing, including fiction and nonfiction. You can use these phrases to help you outline your story, but you can also use them when you're stuck in the middle and aren't sure what would help move your story along. 

And the best part is, it's simple. 

If you want more of the nitty gritty, here is what the phrases line up to in terms of story structure. 

Story Spine

EXPOSITION
//
Once upon a time...
and every day...
INCITING INCIDENT
until one day...
PROGRESSIVE COMPLICATIONS
///
and because of that...
and because of that...
and because of that...
CRISIS/CLIMAX
until finally...
RESOLUTION
and since that day...
THEME
the moral of the story is...
Photo credit: Kasey Varner

Photo credit: Kasey Varner

The most useful tools are annoyingly simple, right?? 


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