I am sharing Amy’Deardan’s four story pillars mentioned in her book entitled THE STORY TEMPLATE: Conquer Writer’s Block
The Four Story Pillars
A story (novel or screenplay) is often thought of as having two arms: outer and inner story. The outer story covers the external plot: what readers will summarize when asked what your story is about. The inner story describes the emotional journey of one or more characters.
Romance or literary work often focuses on inner story, while a mystery or action-adventure usually emphasizes outer story.
Story involves two tiers of construction: concrete and abstract. The concrete describes the actual events and characters, whereas the abstract sheds light on the applications of how story fits into society, relationships, and life.
Within concrete and abstract are the four story pillars: PLOT is the actual story line with story goals and external obstacles. CHARACTER the inner emotional journeys of one or more characters. STORY WORLD the specific environment in which the story takes place. MORAL the theme; message that the story conveys.
OUTTER STORY INNER STORY
CONCRETE PLOT CHARACTER
ABSTRACT STORY MORAL
The STORY PREMISE, is the pillar that drives the story.
Plot Pillar – Iron Man, Jaws
Character Pillar – Forest Gump, Rocky
Moral Pillar – Facing the Giants, Ender’s Game
Story World Pillar – Fellowship of the Ring, Harry Potter
Although the story centers around one pillar, the other pillars are developed to a greater or lesser extent in order to make your story grip readers.
PLOT: What is your story question? What is your story goal? What are the stakes of your story (the bad things that will happen if your protagonist doesn’t achieve his goal)? What is the main obstacle (usually the antagonist) blocking your protagonist from reaching his goal? What are some other obstacles?
CHARACTER: Who is your protagonist? What does he want in the story? Does he have a secondary protagonist? (The secondary protagonist works with the protagonist as a team to achieve the story goal, and is often a love interest). What is your protagonist’s “hidden” (emotional) need that will be fixed in the story? Who (or what) is the antagonist? What goals are your protagonist and antagonist competing for?
STORY WORLD: What is the time and place of your story? What are common social customs? What do buildings and structures look like? What do your characters eat, wear, and use? What is the weather like?
MORAL: What is the ONE universal principal that you want to explore in your story? Some examples of moral might be:
Romeo and Juliet: Great Love Defies Death.
Forest Gump: Unconditional Love Redeems the Rebel.
Fellowship of the Ring: Willingness to Relinquish Power Leads to Preservation.
The Godfather: Family Ties Overcome Individual Virtue.
Rocky: Courage and Persistence Lead to Significance.
The Incredibles: Working Together Allows Each Individual to Shine.