What Are Story Structures? (5 Examples)

In this post, we briefly discuss ideas regarding the question: What are story structures?

A story structure is the general order in how a story is being told to an audience. This typically follows a Beginning-Middle-End Structure, however there are a variety of story structures that a storyteller can use to best convey their plot to the audience.

What Are Story Structures & Why Are They Important

The narrative structure is essential when developing your story. The same way a building cannot stand without a good foundation, a story will fall flat if the framework is neglected.

Without a solid narrative structure, your story can fall apart in terms of pacing, rhythm, or lack or cohesion.

The most common narrative structure consists of three parts:

  • The Beginning
  • Middle
  • End

This simple structure is used to tell a linear story and explains events in a chronological order.

The beginning is where major characters are introduced, initial conflicts are presented, and so on. At some point during this phase there is a "trigger" or Call to Adventure, where the protagonist is faced with an opportunity to change their life.

The middle is where most of the story takes place and where plot events get more emotionally heavy and sometimes complicated.

Finally, the end is where all the plot points reach a resolution and bring the story to a close. The "climax" is what leads into the end of the story.

Usually, two "turning" points are included in this classic model, two moments in which the story undergoes a "dramatic" change due to some event.

Generally, the first turn is usually located before the beginning of the plot. And the second turn is generally located at the middle or ending phases. This second turning point can sometimes coincide with the climax.

The classic Beginning-Middle-End model is the most common and recommended for writing your first stories. It's the easiest to manage and master, however there are also many other alternatives and variations of narrative structures.


Brief Examples of Different Narrative Structures

One example of a variation on the Beginning-Middle-End Structure is to start the story in the Middle, go back in time to recount the events that led up to the Middle, then after catching the audience up, continue the story up to the End.

Another example is the In-Extremis Structure, where the story begins at the End, but before the conclusion, the story recounts the Beginning and Middle up to the End.

One example of the In-Extremis structure is Gabriel Garcia Márquez's Chronicle of a Death Foretold.

Forrest Gump is a great film example that uses a Retrospective Narrative Structure to tell its story. It does this through the use of various flashbacks that bring the audience up to the present moment.

Finally, there is the Counterpoint Formula Structure, which occurs when the plot consists of multiple seemingly independent stories that become interconnected as their development progresses.

There are plenty of narrative structures that you can use. Make sure you choose the structure that best helps you convey your story.

Here are resources I recommend to get more in-depth knowledge

Storytelling 101 teaches you how to write compelling stories worthy of commercial success. This is best for screenwriters, novelists, filmmakers, videogame writers and storytellers.

Children’s Books 101 teaches you how to write stories that children will love. This is best for aspiring children’s book authors and storytellers.

Owl AI is the revolutionary AI-powered content production platform that helps storytellers, writers, and bloggers of all subject matter easily create highly-polished content.

Success, Money & Mindset Subliminal is a self-hypnosis recording that we recommend to new writers to help with focus, concentration, creativity, and motivation.

Shadow Work Journal: 240 Daily Prompts contains inner work exercises related to relationships, anger, anxiety, self-love, healing trauma, abandonment issues, depression, forgiveness, etc.


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