How to create compelling storylines Part 1: Non-Fiction

Most stories that are written pass through various stages known as the story arc. It’s not too dissimilar to Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey which mainly looks at similar psychological journeys different societies go through on their way to becoming more human. In this way this article will look at the different stages a story will go through to make it a classic work of fiction. There are eight stages to this;

Stasis: This involves the meat of the story. The daily life in which the story is set and is revealed in the first few pages. A young girl or boy who has lost both of her parents and is set on a different life path. A world which is ruled by demons or angels from which the eponymous hero must escape or save something. A character that is born with nothing or has all the riches until something occurs that propels them in a different direction. These are all world setting themes that you will lay out to the reader in the first few pages.

creating plotlines
writing stories

Trigger: Once the world or scene has been set an incident or trigger will occur changing the circumstances for the main protagonist. The parents die in a car crash. The Queen sets a task to all the villagers, a young person decides to leave home in search of something. Once your world is laid out and the primary characters introduced then the trigger will occur propelling the protagonist in a different direction. This part will hook the reader into the character’s journey.

creating stories
writing storylines

The Quest: The trigger may well be the car crash or death that commences the quest, a search for something, or a reluctant running from something, which challenges your protagonist and makes them stronger, or shapes them into the hero they may well be or not be. The quest no doubt will involve the introduction of more characters such as antagonists or a lover to fall in love with. The quest adds greater depth to the story world as the journey, the world and the characters take shape with the reader now hooked.

creating stories
writing stories

Surprise: Naturally along the way events will occur beyond the character’s scope and ability. The lover may turn into the enemy. The cat that starts to talk, the world in which they live reveals a magical element. There will be many surprises along the way but not too obvious and so outlandish that they don’t fall into line with the world that you have established.

creating plotlines
creative writing stories


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