EIGHT POINT STRUCTURE
The next model I want to look at uses eight points to describe the basic structure of a story.
Here's a run-down of the eight points in this model as described in Nigel Watts's book Write a Novel - and Get It Published.
(Once upon a time...)
The reader is shown what the main character's life is usually like--the status quo, business as usual. This allows us to see what the main character has to lose or gain over the course of the story.
(something out of the ordinary happens...)
Something beyond the main character's control happens, and changes the status quo, starting the chain of events that make up the story. It might be something big and dramatic, or it might be a quiet, subtle change that builds over time.
(causing the protagonist to seek something...)
Because of the trigger, the main character begins a quest. It might be a quest to return things to the status quo, or it might be a quest for a new and different life.
(but things don't go as expected...)
As the main character pursues the goal of the quest, obstacles and complications arise, and must be overcome. Surprises should rise naturally out of what's happening in the story, but not be easily predictable.
5. CRITICAL CHOICE
(forcing the protagonist to make a difficult decision...)
Eventually, push really comes to shove, and the main character must make a difficult decision--one on which everything hinges, one that will alter the course of the future. This choice is one that demonstrates the true nature of the main character. For a happy ending, the character makes the right choice, even though it's difficult and may require some sacrifice. For a tragic ending, the character makes the wrong choice and must face the consequences.
(which has consequences...)
The climax is the outward manifestation of the decision made during the Critical Choice. Everything comes to a head, and decisive action is taken. Tension and excitement are at their highest points during this phase of the story.
(The result of which is a change in status...)
The reversal results directly from the critical choice that has been made manifest in the climax. It changes the main character's nature and situation to the opposite of what it was at the beginning of the story arc (from poverty to wealth, weakness to strength, fear to courage, rejection to acceptance, defeat to victory, etc.).
(and they all lived happily ever after.)
The resolution ties up all the loose ends and establishes a new stasis--a new status quo. We see how life will go on after the story ends.