(last edited December 6, 2010)

Story Template

Use this template as a guide to create your story.
  1. Life goes on: A title in waiting
  2. Premise
  3. Setting
  4. Genre
  5. Archplot
    1. Inciting Incident (the beginning)
    2. Reaching the Object of Desire (the end)
    3. Progressive Complications (the middle)
  6. Characters
    1. Character Arcs
  7. Controlling Idea
  8. Storyboard Structure
    1. The Easy Beginning
    2. The Rough Middle
    3. The Easy End

Life goes on: A title in waiting

The title of your story can wait until you are finished writing your story. Therefore, spend your time writing your story instead of thinking of a title or names of your characters.


What would happen if ...? Answer this question. Write down anything that comes to mind. If your mind is drawing a blank, go to a news site and read some of the news. Write down everything you can imagine.


Where and when does the story take place? In the past in a galaxy far, far away? Today? In the future? The Old West? Chicago, 1934?


If you know the genre, list is here. Is it fantasy, detective novel, noir, space-opera, fan-fiction, murder-mystery, historical fiction, science-fiction, horror?


Later, you will flesh this section with more detail, but for now, use the premise, setting, and genre, think about what happens in your story. The archplot is what will take your character from the beginning, to the middle, and then the end of your story. This is also known as the quest.

Inciting Incident (the beginning)

Think in general terms about your main character.
  1. What does he do for his normal life?
  2. What event majorly upsets your characters life and triggers your character into action?
  3. Based on this incident, what does your character need to do to restore the balance in his life?

Reaching the Object of Desire (the end)

Write the end first so you know where the middle will take you.
  1. What action will your character take to finally reach the object of desire? Will he obtain the object or will he ultimately fail? Write it down.

Progressive Complications (the middle)

The middle makes up 80 to 90 percent of your story.
  1. Who and what are the major obstacles that impede your character from obtaining the goal?
  2. What is the first thing your character is going to try to do to restore the balance in his life? How does it fail? Remember that in nature we take the least amount of effort to take an action. When that action doesn't work we take a more active action. In your story, the middle is all about these progressive complications that impede your character from reaching the object of desire.
  3. What is the second action he takes? How does it fail?
  4. You can continue this path for as many scenes as you want. When you're ready, go to create your characters.


Based on the premise, setting, and genre, list at least five characters and their desires in life (what do they want?). Characters in stories usually work together or against each other to obtain the goal. Therefore, each character should be related in some way with each other and each characters' desire should conflict. At this point don't spend time thinking of character names. Instead, focus on your story and use any name that comes to mind. Later, you can refine the names.

  1. Character A: What does he do? What does he want? How does it conflict from those around him?
  2. Character B: What does he do? What does he want? How does it conflict from those around him?
  3. Character C: What does he do? What does he want? How does it conflict from those around him?
  4. Character D: What does he do? What does he want? How does it conflict from those around him?
  5. Character E: What does he do? What does he want? How does it conflict from those around him?

Character Arcs

Like the story in general, each character also has his own Character Arc. These arcs are also often the subplots. Do this arc for each main character in your story.

  1. What is the inciting incident that reverses your character's world?
  2. What object does your character want that will restore the balance in his life?
  3. What are the complications that keep your character from obtaining his desire?
  4. How does your characters' desires conflict with the rest of the cast?
  5. Will your character reach the object of desire?

Controlling Idea

Look at your main character(s) after they reach (or don't reach) the object of desire. If you were watching your story on a movie screen, what would the story mean to you? This is your story's controlling idea.

Storyboard Structure

Here is where you begin planning your scenes. You know where your story is heading and you have a basic understanding of your characters. Never let anything become set in stone. Instead, let this be a guide to your story.

The Easy Beginning

The beginning will set us up for the inciting incident. Don't focus on trying to introduce anything. Instead, simply get right to the story. What does your character do before the inciting incident? How can you setup the inciting incident? Develop a sequence (a series of scenes) that sets up the inciting incident.

The Rough Middle

Once you hit the inciting incident, create a new sequence (or a couple of sequences) that sets how your character will initially react to it and calls him to respond to it. Once your character accepts the call to action, you have finished Act One. Congratulations!

Now you're on the road to your progressive complications. Once new writers hit this part of their story, they run out of steam. But the middle makes up the largest part of your story. To make the middle more manageable, split the middle into two parts: A and B. Work your sequences up to the end of part A to create a major reversal that sets your character back from achieving the goal. Then begin part B as a renewed effort to obtain the object of desire. As you reach major reversals in your story, you can begin a new act. Read more in persuasive essay writing online.

The Easy End

The end of Part B will contain the crisis point that will require your character to use all his energy to achieve the goal.

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Edited December 6, 2010 (diff)