Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Story Structure Architect: A Writer's Guide to Building Dramatic Situations & Compelling Characters” as Want to Read:
Story Structure Architect: A Writer's Guide to Building Dramatic Situations & Compelling Characters
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Story Structure Architect: A Writer's Guide to Building Dramatic Situations & Compelling Characters

3.78  ·  Rating Details ·  643 Ratings  ·  62 Reviews
Build a timeless, original story using hundreds of classic story motifs!

It's been said that there are no new ideas; but there are proven ideas that have worked again and again for all writers for hundreds of years.

Story Structure Architect is your comprehensive reference to the classic recurring story structures used by every great author throughout the ages. You'll find m
Paperback, 288 pages
Published July 26th 2005 by Writer's Digest Books (first published January 1st 2005)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Story Structure Architect, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Story Structure Architect

On Writing by Stephen KingThe Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr.Bird by Bird by Anne LamottWriting Down the Bones by Natalie GoldbergEats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss
Best Books on Writing
165th out of 601 books — 1,077 voters
StoryBranding by Jim SignorelliWinning the Story Wars by Jonah SachsTell to Win by Peter GuberWhoever Tells the Best Story Wins by Annette SimmonsLead with a Story by Paul                   Smith
8th out of 15 books — 5 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,735)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Gaylin Walli
Apr 21, 2012 Gaylin Walli rated it liked it
Shelves: writing
People will undoubtedly criticize two things about this book: it's formulaic and the author uses movies examples. What people are clearly forgetting is that the book's intent is to discuss "formulas" for storytelling, which it does admirably well and in great detail, and the book isn't about *books*. It's about *stories* and how to tell them. Stories largely transcend the medium in which they appear so the author's use of the movies make sense for her background (which was film studies, if I'm n ...more
Jan 03, 2011 Michael rated it it was ok
Shelves: writing
This book is a deconstruction of the major themes and plots behind most western story telling. The author, Victoria Schmidt, is a graduate of film studies, explaining why most of the references and examples are films rather than books. However, storytelling is storytelling, no matter what the medium.

The first two chapters were the most useful from a writer's perspective, outlining and defining the three acts most familiar to western thinkers, planning and development of plot and character. I fel
Feb 25, 2014 Anthony rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writers-writing
Actually, full disclosure: I finished this book years ago. I have found this an absolutely indispensable tool in constructing any story that I write. Every type of story, plot and situation is fully explained complete with familiar examples for each one. If you write, whether you're a seasoned pro or just starting, I strongly recommend this for your library. I further recommend this book to be within arm's reach at all times.
Dec 30, 2008 Adrienna rated it did not like it
I was just trying to learn more as a writer, boring!
I love this book. Some readers have commented that they found it too formulaic - but of course it's formulaic, it's offering an insight into the many ways that one structure and organise a story. And it's strength is that in offering one a whole host of options, it defies being formulaic because it demonstrates what a wide range of options there are. If anything, this book has opened my eyes and broadened my horizons and helped to kick my brain out of being a little too predictable in my own sto ...more
Jul 15, 2012 Hunter rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing
A reference guide to plot structures, and 54 different dramatic situations. I read a library copy quite quickly (admitting that Section 3 which contains the 54 dramatic situations can be an eye glazer) but am glad I picked up a free ebook version for my Kindle library last NaNoWriMo, as the book will provide some browsable ideas when I'm stuck in a writing phase. Section 4 on research seems an un-necessary tagon, as the book isn't really a writing craft how-to write a story at all.

As a referenc
Michelle Pickett
Feb 08, 2016 Michelle Pickett rated it really liked it
This review was originally posted on Michelle K. Pickett

This was a good writing tutorial. The author packed a lot of information into the short book.The first two chapters were of particular interest to me, covering the three-act story and outlining. As the book progressed, types of stories, plots and situations are discussed.Example of the “Romance” chapter:
Definition of the romance plot structure.Breakdown of the types of romance structures: The Cinderella Structure The Beauty and th
Mar 26, 2014 piranha rated it really liked it
super-geeky reference work, well-organized and and concise. takes polti's well-known 36 plots The Thirty Six Dramatic Situations and illustrates/reworks/updates them. gives lots of sample situations and lists a couple published examples for each plot. the latter are all from movies, but i don't see that as a problem; story is story no matter what the medium.

my only quibble is that there is some blather about "feminine" versus "masculine" journeys with implications that women are special snowflak
Aug 02, 2009 Heidi rated it did not like it
I found this book very confusing and was particularly turned off when I discovered that all the examples came from movies, not books. But the final straw was when, under the chapter of "Imprudence and caution" she gives this definition of "Little Women": "Jo waits too long to decide to marry long-time friend, Laurie, and eds up losing him to her younger sister."!!!!!
K.P. Merriweather
Jun 09, 2015 K.P. Merriweather rated it liked it
Got it to mainstream my writing. Mainly for Western writing, it covers common plot and structure elements in movies (here applied to fiction) . However she gets some points wrong under the genre section like supernatural elements in science fiction or a musical using songs to tell the story (I guess stories about bands, singers or anything regarding the music business applies under the musical label here). Her fantasy section was very lacking. There are many subtypes she missed.

Used in conjunct
Apr 08, 2014 Elfscribe rated it liked it
Shelves: writing
Victoria Schmidt details 11 master plot structures such as romance, the journey, the slice of life and then goes through 55 dramatic situations such as vengeance for a crime and rehabilitation or falling prey to cruelty or misfortune. For each situation she discusses the type of characters involved. For example in falling prey there is the unfortunate person and a master who has control over them. She then asks questions that the author should consider in the beginning of the story, for example ...more
Syahira Sharif
Mar 20, 2013 Syahira Sharif rated it really liked it
Shelves: reference, nonfiction
Story Structure Architect is an interesting book to read even if you aren't a storyteller. Like its name, the book detailed about the basic blocks that constitutes in making a story. This includes novels, novellas, screenplay, video games, choose your own adventures and etc. So technically, if you are looking for a read that detailed on each of these things, you wont get any but if you want to see things more clearly about the structure of a story (either its Final Fantasy 7 or Skyrim or 50 Shad ...more
Sep 03, 2015 Alina rated it liked it
Shelves: writing
Actual rating: 3.5

As some other reviewers have mentioned, the first two chapters of this are well done: I found them easy to read, engaging, and gave further insight into certain aspects of the writing process. However, in the following section that had 55 different situations, many of them felt repetitive and were quite dry to read in one sitting. If used as a reference guide as opposed to a read-through, this would be a pretty good reference book.
Wendy Beckman
Jan 09, 2015 Wendy Beckman rated it it was ok
The author is a movie buff, so the book is replete with movie analogies to explain her various points. As I don't go to movies very often, her points were frequently lost on me. Some of the story types were geared more toward movies than books, so I felt as if I were reading something written for people who want to write screenplays, more than for people who want to write books. Parts of it provided food for thought, though. I'm not sorry I read it, but I am sorry I bought it.
JB Lomax
Mar 13, 2014 JB Lomax rated it really liked it
Giving this book four stars was easy for one simple reason. I learned something. It is indeed simplistic and after reading several related books, it still has value. If I didn't learn anything new (which I did) then I could at least take away from it the reenforcement of old ideas and ingrain them deeper into my subconscious. Other points of view and encouragement are always needed for a fledgling writer like myself.
Yvonne Day
Jun 12, 2016 Yvonne Day rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this. The author makes it real easy to pick a dramatic situation and breaks it down so the reader can use them as guidelines to guide them in plotting their own book. I am eager to try following her guidance and seeing how it helps me in my own witting.
Ruth Lorenzana
Nov 28, 2015 Ruth Lorenzana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a book!

If you care even a tiny bit about becoming a better writer, or just a more creative person in general, you must read this book. It dissects everything you need to know about writing a book down to the molecular level.
Sep 05, 2016 Lex rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Good checklist

I gave this a quick review and I plan of using as a reference for all my unfinished novels -making them closer to remaining unfinished.
Sep 16, 2012 Amy rated it liked it
Shelves: on-writing
This is nicely organized resource for writing. I especially enjoyed the chapter on the six types of conflict. Schmidt asks a series of open-ended questions to help with story-planning, and it helped me to get through some of the brainstorming for one of my story outlines.

In terms of examples, I agree with other reviewers that the focus on film is one-sided and does not always translate well to other media such as novels. I prefer Blake Snyder's overview of genres, and I prefer for a
Angie Lee
Oct 31, 2015 Angie Lee rated it liked it
This is a great description, in a very formulaic way, that helps you visualize how you want to set up the story
Pedro Cabiya
Jan 05, 2016 Pedro Cabiya rated it liked it
A good reference when you find yourself in jam, plotwise. Not to be used as a recipe book (it won't work).
Mar 18, 2015 Winston rated it it was amazing
Excellent " go to ref.", will help a beginning, or experienced writer advance their structure.
R. Brooks
Apr 01, 2016 R. Brooks rated it really liked it
Very insightful and I often flip it open to a random page to get a quick refresher.
Aug 28, 2008 Bec rated it really liked it
Shelves: craft
Cookbook style guide to story structures which provides lists and descriptions of various dramatic throughlines, conflicts, and genres. Designed to give the beginning reader and overview of nearly a dozen master story structures and 55 dramatic situation, the book's strength is in showing how the simplest story structure can yield a complex and satisfying experience for the writer when dramatic situations are employed. Although limited to screenwriting and writing for adults, many of the princip ...more
Becky Hoffman
May 01, 2012 Becky Hoffman rated it liked it
It was good in the beginning, but then it slowly dwindled off. There are so many different forms of plot structure and this book made it almost overwhelming. Sure the movie references helped to give the imagery that they were hoping to explain with each chapter/segment, but it just became too much in the end. I recommend it for a fun look at all the different types of plot structure, but don't expect to learn too much from it because you'll just be overwhelmed by everything and probably won't re ...more
Very good book to have as a guide.
Alicia Gregoire
This book effectively breaks down plot by explaining dramatic throughlines plus the different type of plots that can be used aside from the traditional 3 act structure.

This would've received 5 stars if it wasn't for the section on the 55 situations that can be used. As someone not familiar with Ploti, I was confused on some of the terminology and the best way to incorporate. I felt like that section could've been expanded a bit.

Even with that drawback, this was an excellent resource.
Bill Sweet
Sep 12, 2013 Bill Sweet rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing
I usually place many of these how-to books about writing on the same moral plane as chain letters: they offer no verifiable content, urge you to buy more, and threaten disaster if you don't follow them to the letter. That said, I found much of this book useful and helpful in my current wrangling with fiction. Analytic but not pedantic. It does lean on film more, but I suspect that's to provide recognizable examples in this post literate age. One I will come back to.
Dec 12, 2011 Carrie rated it it was ok
Shelves: on-writing, z-2011
This was offered as a free Kindle download during Nanowrimo, so I grabbed it. It's mostly summaries of dramatic throughlines, conflicts, and genres that can be used in fiction.

As someone who's severely plot structure challeged, I found it semi-useful. It was enough to get me started thinking about potential ways to structure a story, but not enough for me to get something workable down on paper.
Dec 30, 2014 Alison rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, craft
A fun, potentially inspiring, way of constructing a story.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 57 58 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • How to Be a Writer: Building Your Creative Skills Through Practice and Play
  • Getting the Words Right
  • The Complete Handbook Of Novel Writing: Everything You Need To Know About Creating & Selling Your Work (Writers Digest)
  • The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing: Everything You Need to Know to Write, Publish, Promote and Sell Your Own Book
  • Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One & Never Lets Them Go
  • Write That Book Already!: The Tough Love You Need to Get Published Now
  • What Would Your Character Do?: Personality Quizzes for Analyzing Your Characters
  • The Writer's Guide to Character Traits: Includes Profiles of Human Behaviors and Personality Types
  • Make a Scene: Crafting a Powerful Story One Scene at a Time
  • Dialogue: Techniques and exercises for crafting effective dialogue
  • Description & Setting
  • The Portable MFA in Creative Writing
  • Breathing Life into Your Characters
  • Scene and Structure (Elements of Fiction Writing)
  • Cohesive Story Building
  • The Breakout Novelist: Craft and Strategies for Career Fiction Writers
  • 20 Master Plots: And How to Build Them
  • Revision & Self-Editing: Techniques for Transforming Your First Draft Into a Finished Novel

Share This Book