These days I’ve been reading Save the Cat, a manual on writing screenplays that goes deeply into the problems professional spec script writers face, and the techniques they use to address them.
Even though the book is focused on the film industry, the most part can be applied to the creation of stories in any other medium. In this sense, one of the things the book says is that however good your premise is, if it doesn’t unfold in an appropriate structure, the result will be an unbalanced story that can’t connect with the audience.
The author himself admits that for many years he relied just on his own intuition when writing, until he stopped to analyze the structure of screenplays, and was surprised to discover that the best balanced stories could be broken into surprisingly similar parts.
Parts of the structure of a script according to Blake Snyder:
- Opening Image
- Stated Theme
- Break into Two
- B Story
- Fun and Games
- Bad Guys Close In
- All is Lost
- Dark Night of the Soul
- Break into Three
- Final Image
If you try to apply this structure to any Hollywood movie, you will realise that most fit quite accurately to this model. In other media such as literature and games, the script may vary, but in any case, I think a model like this can be a good starting point to think about how the flaws of our stories could be caused by the lack of a sharp, balanced and attractive structure.