Every writer should read Shawn Coyne’s The Story Grid.
Of the many things I gained from the book, the one take-away that stands out a few years later is his five elements of a story. I have used these five elements to write articles, tell stories in keynote speeches, and plan out short stories. Once you get to know these elements, you start to look for them in TV shows and movies as well as books.
Here is a simple practice that has helped me. Before you write or plan anything you will share with an audience, write down these five elements:
- Inciting Incident:
- Progressive Complication:
Or, I sometimes shorten it to:
The book goes into each element in detail, but Shawn and Tim Grahl go into great detail about each one with examples from well-known stories in this podcast. Or read this summary of the five elements in “Writing Scenes that Work.”