How to Structure A Story: The Eight-Point Arc
By Ali Hale - 3 minute read One of my favourite “how to write” books is Nigel Watts’ Writing A Novel and Getting Published. My battered, torn and heavily-pencil-marked copy is a testament to how useful I’ve found it over the years. (Even if you’re a short story writer or flash fiction writer rather than a novelist, this structure still applies, so don’t be put off by the title of Watts’ book.) The eight points which Watts lists are, in order: StasisTriggerThe questSurpriseCritical choiceClimaxReversalResolution He explains that every classic plot passes through these stages and that he doesn’t tend to use them to plan a story, but instead uses the points during the writing process: I find [the eight-point arc] most useful as a checklist against which to measure a work in progress. So, what do the eight points mean? Stasis This is the “every day life” in which the story is set. Trigger Something beyond the control of the protagonist (hero/heroine) is the trigger which sparks off the story.