I’m rereading How to Tell a Story: The Secrets of Writing Captivating Tales by Peter Rubie and Gary Provost. While only halfway through, on page 95 of 199 total (not counting the appendices and index), I have already found many pieces of gold.
Published in 1998, this book contains universal rules at work.
For instance, there is this great “Gary Provost Sentence” that has been expanded into the “Gary Provost Paragraph” which delineates all the plot points for your story. It’s an awesome tool. Here it is (plot points underlined):
Once upon a time, something happened to someone, and he decided that he would pursue a goal. So he devised a plan of action and, even though there were forces trying to stop him, he moved forward as there was a lot at stake. And just when things seemed as bad as they could get, he learned an important lesson, and when offered the prize he had so strenuously sought, he had to decide whether or not to take it, and in making that decision, he satisfied a need that had been created by something from his past.
This is classic story structure. Great, huh?
Denise Barker, author + blogger + copy editor