Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Story Strucure

I learned the fundamentals of story structure as a Boy Scout.

After hiking all day, we would sit around a campfire, sing songs, and tell jokes. Sooner or later, we would start singing the Salvation Army song, a ditty that's about as far from being politically correct as pre-adolescents of the late 60s would get.

We sang, "Salvation Army, Salvation Army. Put a nickel in the drum, save another drunken bum."

We repeated this catchy little number until one of the scouts shouted, "Testimonial!"

The scout who shouted "Testamonial!" would then tell us a three-part story and we would cheer and boo at appropriate places in the story. Each story would go something like this:

"Budweiser sent us a truck full of beer!"

"Yay!" we would shout.

"But the driver ran off the road and crashed the truck!"

"Boo!" we would shout.

"But we saved all the beer!"

"Yay!" we would shout.

Then we would start singing again until another scout shouted, "Testimonial!"

And that, in a nutshell, is the classic three act play or three part story:

1. Something good happens.

2. Something bad happens.

3. Something good happens.

You can write a great many stories without ever straying from this story structure.

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