A story has three obvious structural
parts: beginning, middle, and ending. What is not obvious - yet is absolutely
critical - is learning exactly what story elements must be written under each
of those segments. Those can be simplified by using three words beginning with
the letter 'O'.
What is not obvious, yet critical, is what
story elements must be under each of those segments. Those can be simplified by
using three words beginning with the letter 'O'.
The first letter 'O' comes in the
beginning of a story and stands for Objective. The likeable, motivated, but
flawed main character wants something for good reason.
The second letter 'O' comes in the long
middle of a story and stands for Obstacles. Those are the problems the main
character must overcome in order to achieve his goal.
The third letter 'O' comes in the short
ending of the story and stands for Outcome: It tells how the main character
achieves the Objective or fails after valiantly trying.
Now, I'll illustrate that with a story I
wrote called "Shark Pit".
The story opens in California with 12-year old Josh Ladd
encountering a stranger who shows him a photograph of Josh's father. The man
claims he's looking for him because he's an old army buddy. Josh knows that's a
lie because his father was never in the army. Josh also sees a hand-drawn map
when the stranger accidentally drops it.
The mystery develops at home when Josh
learns that his father has a writing assignment for a magazine and a special
map to visit Hawaii
in search of some priceless hidden treasures. Josh recognizes that his father's
map is identical to the one the stranger dropped. Josh's Objective is to go
with his father because Tank Catlett, Josh's best friend, now lives in Hawaii.