5 Story Structures For Your Next Masterpiece

The Electronic Pen
6 min readAug 20, 2022

A brief guide for all authors looking for quick plot inspiration

An open novel sits on a cluttered wooden desk, ivy and a pink heart stone laying on the pages.
Photo by Alina Vilchenko

Inspiration is constantly being chased by all writers looking to write their next captivating story, and it can be found in all types of places: characters, dialogue, setting — and now, plot.

Read a little bit about five tried-and-true story structures, and a bonus exercise on how to use them to get some never-seen-before plots, unique to you.

Rags to Riches

This is a pretty straight forward plot arc you’ll find in most simple fairy tales, and just goes from good to bad, top to bottom, rags to riches.

The key moments of this arc are a bad start, an inciting incident that gives the main character an opportunity to improve their bad life, and an ending where they end up in a better place then they started off in.

Antagonists in the rag to riches story arc usually stand in the way of the character in a more emotional or subtle way — greedy, viscous older sibling or prince’s prejudiced father.

Classic examples of this story arc are Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Rapunzel — basically any fairy tale you can imagine.

Let’s take Cinderella to break it apart a little more — she starts off in a bad situation and a miserable life, the inciting incident is her chance to go to the ball, and the antagonist is the stepmother, emotionally making her feel unworthy and physically preventing her from going to the ball.

Now, from there, lots of things happen, including the fairy godmother and the prince’s quest to find her, but the story ends with her ‘happily ever after’.

Of course, modern day novels aren’t as straight-forward, but you’ll find that the majority of books actually follow this extremely simple story arc — sad beginning, happy ending.

The Quest For The (Insert Goal Here)

When you think of a ‘quest’, you probably think of a great grand journey in a fantasy world with elves and dwarves, and while that is a great example of this story arc, it’s not the only thing.

The ‘quest’ doesn’t just have to be for an item — all-powerful weapon, book of pure…

The Electronic Pen

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