Q&A: Structuring Short Films and Email Stories

Q: I’ve read your article on the 5 Key Turning Points of All Successful Stories, and watched your lecture on 6-stage plot structure that’s part of The Hero’s Two Journeys. But I’m an internet marketer creating short emails, and I also want to write 15-20 page stories I can sell as eBooks. Do I still need all six stages?

A: For shorter stories – and for short films (such as this year’s Oscar® winner The Phone Call) – it’s still possible to use all six stages, but not essential. To streamline the structure, begin the story with a glimpse of your hero’s everyday life, create some new event that will instill a visible goal in your character, force the hero to confront at least one major obstacle or conflict to achieving that goal, create a climactic scene in which he or she resolves that desire, and then give us a glimpse of the new life your hero will now live as a result of completing the journey.