Playing with the plot...

There are infinite ways to make storytelling magic, but here are 7 popular and powerful narrative structures you may wish to try on for size.

I value each of these models for different purposes, and here share some basic examples here to help you get creative juices flowing...

1... 3 Act structure

  1. Setup - your character/s, relationships, world + a catalysing challenge...

  2. Confrontation - how does our protagonist respond, seek help & develop to overcome challenges faced?

  3. Resolution - what climax & new sense of self is realised? 

This model is familiar from most Western stories, from fairy tales to works of fiction to marketing.

Think of Wonder Woman (discovers Ares is alive and the world is at war, gangs up with some unlikely sidekicks to save the day & reinvigorate women’s empowerment in the superhero genre). And swoon!

2... Hero’s Journey

  1. Separation... set scene... hero is called to an adventure... connects with a mentor
  2. Initiation... adventure... ordeal... transformation to achieve goal! some final tests
  3. Return to ordinary world anew, with reflection on meaning & resolution of the story.

Well that's a condensed version of Joseph Campbell's 17 Step Model!

This narrative arc and hero archetype are hugely influential across Western Fiction and mythology. To stick with scifi for a moment longer, the oft-quoted Hero's Journey example is Star Wars...

3. ... Heroine's Journey

Plus here's a summary of a powerful but lesser-known narrative model by Maureen Murdock:

  1. Separation from the feminine... identification with masculine... gathering of allies
  2. Trials & foes faced... overcome & success
  3. Reawakening to feeling of spiritual aridity - success in masculine paradigm is found to be illusory... Initiation & yearning to reconnect with the feminine
  4. Healing of mother/daughter split, the wounded masculine... integration of masculine & feminine so that heroine faces the world with new understanding & complexity.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, there are fewer examples in popular culture, but this model may meaningfully align with your own journey and that of your clients.

Golden Circle

4... Simon Sinek's Golden Circle

  1. Why?
  2. How?
  3. What?

You know I'm a fan of starting with WHY!

The famous example of this model for sharing your story is this one Sinek gives is about Steve Jobs accounting for Apple:

"Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently… The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use and user-friendly. And we happen to make great computers."

5. Before After Bridge

  1. Before - show us a problem, that we can imagine & identify with you
  2. After - show us a future after this problem is solved, so that we can feel great benefits
  3. Bridge - show us how to get there, with your solution...

This is a classic copywriting formula. Here I've given it a whirl in under 141 characters...

6. Dale Carnegie's Magic Formula

  1. Incident - share a vivid, personal, relevant experience
  2. Action - call your audience to one specific action
  3. Benefit - clearly emphasise real benefit of this action

You'd be familiar with this classic marketing model for storytelling.

I've recently played again with this trusty formula when sharing my own experiences with storytelling. *Complete with typo and shared here in the spirit of #imperfectaction ;)

7... Cliffhanger

  1. Share an awesome story...
  2. Stop or pause your story at a moment of great suspense & excitement!
  3. What next?...

You know this one from basically every series you’ve ever binge-watched! It's a powerful ploy to entice your ideal audience to return for more of you stories, content and solutions.

I've brought together these examples to help you in developing creative ideas for your story as part of this challenge. They can also generate many other options that may well complement your content strategy!

Enjoy playing with some of these models, and let me know what best fits you why and style. And I'd love to hear about what other narrative models you enjoy within business!

Let's line up a free chat about your ideas, queries and any challenges you face.



This little video I made earlier, as part of a 5 day Storytelling Challenge, introduces 6 of these 7 narrative models. Stay tuned for new resources in the making!