How to Structure a Story in 3 Easy Steps

How to structure a story

If you want to break down walls with an audience and influence them to act, nothing beats a well-told story. To create that story, simplicity is key: you need three basic elements:

  • Character
  • Goal
  • Challenge

Now you can make it as complicated as you want, layering on other elements like a turning point or a surprising twist. But these are the three legs of the stool. Without them, your story falls down.

Besides, three is just easier to remember. I had an audience member once who said he attended a seminar promising eight ingredients of successful stories. He couldn’t remember any of them, but he was pretty sure he could nail these three.

Seriously, if you’re ever in doubt, you can’t miss by following the Rule of Threes.

I explain it all in this short (2:30) video, using the classic Romeo & Juliet as an example for how to structure any story. Look for this structure at play in your favorite movies and TV shows. Study it, work with it, and use it to create your own.

For more detail, check out this earlier post: An Easy Formula for Unlocking the Power of Storytelling.