I'm developing a new plot structure - join me

As the subject says, I’m working on a new plot structure.

But, Kami, why develop a new one when there are tried and true methods out there already?

Because one size doesn’t fit all. Some stories will suffer if you try to fit them into a standard that isn’t meant for them.

To make it clear, I think everyone should still study the classics, the Three Act Structure, The Hero’s Journey, Save the Cat and similar. Study them and see why they work before you decide to reinvent the wheel.

Why I need you.

For brainstorming, feedback and maybe even for being guinea pigs if you wish.

Is this 100% original structure?

Glad you asked. No, it isn’t. It’s heavily based on Fichtean Curve, or rather of my interpretation of it. I haven’t come up with a name for it yet so I’m just calling it my Fichtean Curve. :joy:

If you Google Fichtean Curve, you’ll get a bunch of articles that talk about it but don’t put it into use. I’m seeing a pattern of every blogger copying the same description of this method which is rather misleading. If you check the original text where the curve was introduced, it’s a lot more interesting than that. So no, I don’t recommend for you to Google it.

What type of story would do well when fit into the Fichtean Curve?

  1. Internally-driven stories. You can still write an action-filled story with it but if the main point of the story is a change that happens within the character, my Fichtean Curve will work wonders for it.
  2. Stories that start on the inciting incident. This is where Fichtean Curve solves the problem that other plot structures introduce. You can still use it if it doesn’t start like that but it might not be as useful.

Let’s get to it.

I’m still working on trying to figure out the flow of this process and I’d love it if you joined me and provided your feedback.

Bonus points if you try to analyze your story by using my Fichtean Curve.


STEP 1: What is the inciting incident?

This the event that kicks off the story. Something disturbs the status quo.

STEP 2: What problem does the inciting incident introduce?

It could be a problem or an opportunity.
It creates a Goal for your character.

STEP 3: What is the solution to this problem?

The answer to this question will be a crucial part of your story’s climax - it will be either the highest point of the climax or a point right before it. More about that later.

STEP 4: Imagine Path A.

This is the ideal scenario. In a perfect world, your protagonist would get easily from the Problem introduced by the Inciting incident to the Solution you listed in Step 2.

It’s ultimately the path your character didn’t/couldn’t take and it forms the straight bottom line of the Fichtean Curve.

STEP 5: List all reasons that will keep your character from getting onto Path A.

  • Villains and all forms of antagonistic forces.
  • Internal conflict. Your character wants something but fears consequences of pursuing it.
  • Secrets. Information your character doesn’t know. Knowledge that could help them if only someone told them.
  • Character flaws.
  • Physical obstacles.

List anything and everything that can get in the way of your character while they’re pursuing their goal.

These will fuel the Crisis points of your Curve. This will also become your go-to list as you write your story.

STEP 6: List what will help your character get to their goal.

  • Helpful side characters.
  • Positive character traits and strengths.
  • Resources they’ll find on their journey.

Now that we have compiled these lists, think of your story as the tug-of-war between the Crises and moments of calm. Your character will have wins and losses, moments of stress and moments of peace.

Remember Path A, the ideal path, the straight line? The ups and downs of your character’s journey is what creates PATH B - the curve. This is the actual story you’re writing.

STEP 7: What’s the point?

This is an extra point that you might not be able to answer until you’ve written your story further or even until you’ve finished it.

You’ll notice that Path B, however hard and painful it was, was actually better for your character. They’ve learned something very important, changed for the better, made friends/lovers or maybe saw through the mask of those around them.

Path B is the more interesting story. If your character took Path A, they would have missed out, or even made catastrophically wrong choices.

So for Step 7, I’d like you to make an argument why it’s better that your character took Path B.

The answer to this question tells you what your story is really about. It’s the ultimate big-picture theme. It’s the point of the story and the message you’re conveying to your readers.


In the subsequent replies I’m going to post a proposed plot outline that uses my Fichtean Curve and how I’d use it on an example, but while I’m finalizing that, I’d love to hear what you think about this approach so far.

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Reserved for the outline

Reserved for example

Interesting enough. 3 acts comes from opers and arias, which were too rigid and simplified for most writing of it’s contemporaneous era.

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I’ve never had the opportunity to take a creative writing class or a literature analysis class that was taught by a competent teacher. I am completely self taught. So, unfortunately, I am unfamiliar with plot structures of all kinds. Reading your Fichtean curve explination made perfect sense to me and I could see it applied to my own story very well. But at the same time, I have no basis of comparison to tell you anything more than that.

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I’ve never taken a class either. But over the past few years I’ve been researching plot structure and writing tips like a maniac. I’m a walking encyclopedia, lol.

The structures I listed share a lot of traits. I’ve noticed that if a story fits one, it will fit the others. So it makes sense that if a story doesn’t fit one, it likely won’t fit the others.

There are a lot of stories that fit 3 acts very well but the danger of forcing it upon every writer like it’s the only way to write is a big mistake.

But notice that every source of writing tips presents their chosen structure as the one and only solution and insists that your story will fail if you don’t abide by the authority of that one structure.

The reality is that it depends.

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This part really resonated with me. It feels very crucial to what stories are actually about. They’re not about path A but about the other circular path the characters have to take to reach the goal. (and about readers screaming at the characters to just take the easy path! :sweat_smile:)

I haven’t read as much as you about plot structure, but I did recently read Save The Cat and kinda felt that this part was missing as it just put the characters on a route to solve their issues, without stopping to think about the reasons they characters can’t get there just yet.

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I fully agree here. Also I don’t seem to fit into the 3 Acts status.

I just write what enters my head at the time, even if it jerks me away from my initial goal for a chapter. I just re-read it and see what happens after that. Maybe I will find something that spans a few chapters during that re-read, but still fits somehow (it has happened).

At the end of the day, there are no real rules to writing as such… You see things play out in your head, and write it as best you can. And, that’s about it really…

SD

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Yes. I was ecstatic when I studied Save the Cat at first. It fits good stories so well and I love how it explains mirroring. It’s such a powerful way to tell a story.

But it reads too much like a formula. When I’m trying to write a story and it doesn’t fit in that outline, it really sucks. I want my story to be as awesome as those examples. If it doesn’t fit, does it mean it will never be as good?

So in my approach, I’m trying to be a lot more flexible. I’m not putting pressure on the beats but on the character.

I’ll repeat this info when I update the reserved reply above but let’s touch on it.

What really attracted me to Fichtean Curve when I read the original description of it (not the one that’s repeated by every blogger) is how much more it’s focused on the character instead of the plot.

The original author spoke about how the character continues on their path while executing free will. Every crisis that’s thrown their way they address based on their hopes and fears, based on their current state of mind. So the story moves along when character deals with their problem, and not because the plot dictates it so.

The character dictates the plot.

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You see, I think my approach could be useful to pantsers because it allows you so much more freedom than traditional structures.

Most pantsers I’ve spoken with (including myself back when I allowed myself to pants) know what their story’s end goal is even if they’re not planning it. Most of them would be able to answer my 6 or even 7 step questions.

And my proposed outline serves as a list you can follow along as you’re writing or one you can check only once finished writing and ready for edits.

I’ll try to post it tonight.

Like a lot of other writers, I have a natural disinterest in rigid story structures, but I think this is something that every writer should work hard to get past. Are we writing just to fulfill our own fantasies or to tell compelling stories? There’s room to do both anyway.

I went through the seven steps for one of my stories and it put some things in perspective. I already hit most of the major points, but I think I understand more clearly why I must have settled on those things, even if it wasn’t a conscious process. And now I can probably go back and add more focus to those parts of the story.

You’ve given me a lot of food for thought. Thanks for sharing this. :slightly_smiling_face:

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Bloody Hell!

I don’t even know where my tale’s will end… I mean, I have a rough Idea or twelve, but nothing is set in stone or even pliable clay right now. I’m just writing a story or ten wondering what the next chapter will bring forth for each of them.

Am I a so called Pantser? I don’t know? Nor do I feel like it… I’m just a winding wandering writer, I write whatever happens to jump into my head at the time, and think about it later… The 3 Acts stuff just messes with my works within my mind (I’m probably a lost entity in that realm), but it seems to work for me… Now I’m doubting it though. Still, I’ll keep going until something happens to make it all seem rational I guess…

SD

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Found this very interesting article that might be useful for you: Worldwide Story Structures - 김윤미 Kim Yoon Mi Author

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Interesting.
Girl, was she in a mood when she wrote that. Hehe.

I didn’t read everything as it’s a really long list but I totally believe her when she said that her professor laid that one structure down as the law.

Everywhere you turn, people make this claim that your story must be fit into this mold like it’s a universal truth. I never see anyone admit that theirs is a structure appropriate for some stories.

I guess they wouldn’t sell as many copies if they admitted to the truth.

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Not being rude but I WANT TO KNOW WHY YOU THINK you NEED A STRUCTURE based on a traditional structure. Do you know the whole concept of a structure isn’t an all size fits all concept? Not everyone needs one.

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Are you asking me?

I’m confused. This whole thread is about not following the “traditional” structure.

I’m air-quoting traditional because it’s not traditional everywhere around the world. Or even prior to 20th century.

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Some people just invent their own and keep changing it and it works. Some people don’t need any traditional structure that is made. They need ideas. A ROUGH guide. Freedom. Not even this Fitchtean Curve stuff. Not even a three-act structure. I’m not annoyed at you, but I am annoyed at the fact that people, in general, want to FORCE people onto a structure. Some people don’t need it so rigid, and to say that people need it rigid is a flaw onto itself. Or any specific structure. Let people make their own.

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Okay. You’re saying this to someone who is making their own so…

Uhmmm, if you want to take a stab at it and invent your own, do. If you don’t, don’t.

I promise, I won’t force either on you.

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Look, it’s not you but I am so fecking sick of people being like THIS IS THE ULTIMATE STRUCTURE* and expecting people who write different genres to stick to it and get results. NOT ALL stories follow the same code. Some stories need more work and some need less. THEY ARE NOT A ONE SIZE FITS ALL SOLUTION. Until people realize that, writers will struggle and try and force their story into said template.

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A song works to the structure that works for it, so WHY force a story into one structure that doesn’t work for it?

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