There are (nearly) as many ways to construct a story as there are people who write them. I’ve read dozens of books on writing, and some are definitely far better than others. I had the opportunity to read The Story Template: Conquer Writer’s Block Using the Universal Structure of Story for endorsement last year.
Here’s what I said: “The Story Template contains a spiral of information, building upon itself in a way that works with my brain, Kudos to Amy Deardon for a simple, useful guide to story planning.”
Big question–did I mean it? At the time I’d started working on a new story idea that I hoped to begin writing in a month or two. The intervention of other circumstances caused me to set the story aside and write the sequel to Domino’s Game instead, a story that had already been mostly developed months before.
Now I’m working on a new novel again, and I’m back to looking at The Story Template and finding it useful. Here’s why.
Deardon likens the structure of a novel or screenplay to building a house. First we need a foundation, which she introduces the concept of the logline (which I’m familiar with from other books and workshops–it’s sometimes called The Sentence or the essence) and the four story pillars. She points out that there are outer narratives in a good story (plot and story world) and inner narratives (character and moral–aka theme).
While the writer certainly doesn’t need every detail of each of these parts for the foundation, having at least an idea of them will allow you to move forward. This chapter, like every following one, has a series of exercises to work through to layer our knowledge of the four pillars. The next few chapters look at the pillars in greater detail.
From here Deardon takes us to universal story structure and helps us plug in the bits of story developing in our minds. Then it’s back to character development for a few more exercises before beginning the integration of all the pieces.
This is about as far as I’d gotten last spring with my previous attempt to use this book. Right now, I’m tickled pink to have it at my fingertips again as I start over with a brand new concept. This template works well with my work habits, and I look forward to using much more of the book this time around.
Amy Deardon is married with two children, and spends much time taking care of her family. In her life BC (before children) she was a scientist who did bench research. She is a Christian who came to faith under protest through studying the historic circumstances surrounding the death of Jesus. She’s written one novel, A Lever Long Enough, that she’s honored to say has won two awards.
The author provided me with a copy of this book, but the opinions expressed are my own.