Six Short-Story Beats
- A situation
- A complication
- A sense of motion
- A crisis (which defies some expectation)
- A change in direction
- A resolution
The Seven-Point Plot Structure:
- a character,
- in a situation,
- with a problem,
- who tries repeatedly to solve his problem,
- but repeatedly fails, (usually making the problem worse),
- then, at the climax of the story, makes a final attempt (which might either succeed or fail, depending on the kind of story it is), after which
- the result is “validated” in a way that makes it clear that what we saw was, in fact, the final result.
The Hero's Journey:
- The hero is confronted with a challenge,
- rejects it,
- but then is forced (or allowed) to accept it.
- He travels on the road of trials,
- gathering powers and allies, and
- confronts evil—only to be defeated.
- This leads to a dark night of the soul, after which
- the hero makes a leap of faith that allows him to
- confront evil again and be victorious.
- Finally, the student becomes the teacher.
Three Short-Story Essentials
- Require the character to make a choice,
- show that choice by actions, and
- those actions must have consequences.
...three of which I found discussed at Philip Brewer's blog, and one of which I put together after thinking about successful short stories on my own.
I'm trying to take these structures and write extremely short stories/synopses with them – using one sentence for each point in the list.
I'm also finding it surprisingly difficult.
But I figured that while I was striving and trying new things, I might as well put the results up for people to see (and quite possibly best :P ). Just to keep things organized in this post, the card I'm using is below, and I'll link my fills for the squares.
Setting: Forbidden Zone
Complication: I Told You So
Setting: Spy School
Complication: Out of Ammo
Setting: Bug War
Complication: Hopelessly Outnumbered
|Situation: Self-sacrifice for kin
Setting: Torture Cellar
Complication: Keep It Safe from Them
|Situation: Daring enterprise
Complication: Something Went Click
|Situation: Self-sacrifice for an ideal
Setting: Genius Loci
Complication: Are You a God?
Setting: Inside a Computer System
Complication: Stranded in a Blizzard
Setting: Underground City
Complication: Caught in Bed Together
Setting: Abandoned Laboratory
Complication: On Fire
|Situation: An enemy loved
Setting: Hotel California
Complication: It Looks Hungry
|Situation: Crime pursued by vengeance
Setting: Red Light District
Everything Is Spiders
|Situation: Involuntary crimes of love
Setting: City of Canals
Complication: Pinned by a Boulder
|Situation: Recovery of a lost one
Setting: After the End
Complication: Hull Breach
|Situation: Conflict with a god
Complication: It's a Bomb!
Setting: Youth Center
Complication: Stumbling in the Dark
|Situation: Crimes of love
Setting: Golden Age of Piracy
Complication: Snake Pit
Setting: The War Room
Complication: It Happens to a Lot of Guys
|Situation: Slaying of kin unrecognized
Setting: Last Fertile Region
Complication: I Thought You Brought It
|Situation: Rivalry of kin
Setting: Opium Den
Complication: No Parachute
|Situation: Enmity of kin
Setting: Sapient Ship
Complication: Falsely Accused
|Situation: Discovery of the dishonour of a loved one
Complication: Knife in the Back
Setting: Cardboard Prison
Complication: Locked in with Monster
|Situation: The enigma
Setting: Galactic Sargasso
Complication: Only One Spacesuit Left
|Situation: Erroneous judgement
Setting: Death World
Complication: ... 05 ... 04 ... 03 ...
|Situation: Fatal imprudence
Setting: Bazaar of the Bizarre
Complication: Naked in Public