Story Structure

Story structure and Scarab

The Scarab series of novels strongly adhere to story structure

ONE of the most effective things novice screenwriters and novelists can do to improve their craft quickly is to learn as much as they can about story structure.

Happily the information is freely available in sites such as mine and in many others. Books and courses on the subject, too, number in the thousands.

So what is story structure?

Story structure refers to the overall shape of a story comprising of events arranged into scenes.

A fitting structure emerges when the right scenes occur in the right place, at the right time, to solicit maximum audience or reader engagement.

Laying out Story Structure

Typically, a well structured story comprises of three acts—a beginning, middle and end.

The beginning establishes the setting, situation, characters and their motivations, and, chiefly, the protagonist’s goal.

The middle expands and complicates the obstacles placed in the path of achieving that goal.

The end resolves the question of whether or not the goal can be achieved, most typically, against a background of mounting tension and pace, resulting in a crisis, its climax and resolution.

Having grouped your scenes into the three sections that form a beginning, middle and end, answer the following questions:

Do your scenes:

Add to or detract from the protagonist’s pursuit of the goal?
Accelerate the pace of the story?
Create conflict?
Contribute to the overall rhythm of the story—fast scenes ought to be followed or preceded by slower ones and tense ones with lighter/humorous ones?
Create anticipation/tension?
Surprise the reader/audience?
Foreshadow important events?
Sustain curiosity?
Contribute to character development?
Place the protagonist in jeopardy?

If the answer to these questions is mostly “yes”, then you are probably on your way to writing a successful story.


Story structure refers to a finite number of scenes arranged into three acts so that they facilitate the creation of suspense, verisimilitude, and impact in a story.

4 thoughts on “Story Structure

  1. Gerhard Pistorius

    Thank you Stavros a very relevant article in deed. I really believe that structure comes down to cause and effect. It comes down to separating emotion from the written page. A scene that does not work can be the cancer that will kill your story. As a writer you must be willing to listen to people if they tell you that your story does not work. That’s where rewrites become the defining factor that separate scripts going into production from scripts collecting dust on a shave.

    In short : Rewrites are the the cure to story cancer.

  2. Stavros Halvatzis Post author

    Yes, indeed, Stephen. Although the first one who said it, if I’m not mistaken, was the great Greek, Aristotle.

  3. Stephen Marcus Finn

    Thanks, Stavros. Do you remember the Great Dane (no, not Hamlet, the other one), Victor Borge? He said that every composition has a beginning, a middle and an end, except Schubert’s “Unfinished Symphony”. That has a beginning, a middle, and …


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