Story Structure: 8 Essentials for Outlining Your Novel or Script

Rebecca Loomis, Compulsive creative with too many hobbies

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12 Lessons (27m)
    • 1. Class Overview

      1:32
    • 2. Intro to Act I: The Setup

      1:30
    • 3. Act I - Point #1: The Hook

      5:53
    • 4. Act I - Point #2: Upsetting the Status Quo

      1:44
    • 5. Act I - Point #3: Doorway of No Return

      2:09
    • 6. Intro to Act II: Rising Conflict

      1:25
    • 7. Act II - Point #4: The Initial Plan

      2:24
    • 8. Act II - Point #5: Midpoint & Mirror Moment

      3:07
    • 9. Act II - Point #6: All Hope is Lost

      2:41
    • 10. Act III - Point #7: Transformation

      1:50
    • 11. Act III - Point #8: Climax & Resolution

      2:17
    • 12. Conclusion

      0:54
48 students are watching this class

Project Description

Your class project will be an outline of your novel or script using the eight essential story points within a three-act structure, as listed below. Complete your project by following these two steps:

  1. Copy and paste this outline into your project and add your notes in bold. Each of you will have a different outlining style: your notes may be long descriptions of a scene or simple bullet points to help you stay on track.
  2. If you've completed any of my other writing courses, include a link to those class projects as well, as they relate to this story.

Outline Template - copy & paste this into your project:

ACT I: THE SETUP 

  • Essential Story Point #1: The Hook
  • Optional: Save the Cat
  • Essential Story Point #2: Upsetting the Status Quo
  • Essential Story Point #3: Doorway of No Return

ACT II: RISING CONFLICT

  • Essential Story Point #4: The Initial Plan
  • Optional: Trouble Brewing
  • Essential Story Point #5: Midpoint & Mirror Moment
  • Optional: Mounting Forces
  • Essential Story Point #6: All Hope Is Lost

ACT III: CLIMAX & RESOLUTION

  • Essential Story Point #7: Transformation
  • Essential Story Point #8: Climax & Resolution

––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Remember: you don't have to fill these out in order! This can be as messy or as clean a process as you like. Once you've posted your outline, you can always go back and change it! Writing isn't so cut and dry as finishing a check list. As you develop your characters, your plot will change as well – and vice versa. You may think your story incomplete, or too rough to put online. Post it anyway. This will help you defeat the blank page and the lie of writer's block. Just write, and have confidence that it will solidify into something blissful.

Disclaimer: I adapted this course from a wide variety of tips and tricks presented by other authors and teachers. It is my personal approach using what I've learned, and I suggest you develop your own approach as well. For more sources of information, I highly recommend the following books:

  • The Art of Character: Creating Memorable Characters for Fiction, Film and TV by David Corbett
  • Write Your Novel from the Middle by James Scott Bell
  • Save the Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need by Blake Snyder

Resources(1)