The Wise Sloth formula plot template

Below is a story outline. Below that are the terms used in the outline. 

Generic Story Outline

ACT 1

Introduction-

  • Setup-
  • Delivery-
  • Outcome-

Cataclysm-

  • Setup-
  • Delivery-
  • Outcome-

Decision-

  • Setup-
  • Delivery-
  • Outcome-

ACT 2

Preparation-

  • Setup-
  • Delivery-
  • Outcome-

Engagement-

  • Setup-
  • Delivery-
  • Outcome-

Neutralization-

  • Setup-
  • Delivery-
  • Outcome-

ACT 3

Prize-

  • Setup-
  • Delivery-
  • Outcome-

Reckoning-

  • Setup-
  • Delivery-
  • Outcome-

Sunset-

  • Setup-
  • Delivery-
  • Outcome-

Terms

Setup

This is where you see the cause of what’s about to happen.

Delivery

This is the event the cause…caused to happen.

Outcome

This is what happened as a result of that thing happening.

Introduction

Introduce the protagonist and the setting. Show the protagonist in his natural setting doing what he always does the way he always does it. Show how life usually reacts to him doing what he usually does. Show what the protagonist loves, hates, fears and hopes for most. Show what he’s best and worst at. Show who he is and who is isn’t, what he does and what he doesn’t.

Cataclysm

The worst possible thing that could possibly happen to the protagonist happens. He loses that which is most dear to him.

Decision

The protagonist must decide to set the universe right again. Show how he makes that decision and why.

Preparation

If the protagonist already had everything necessary to solve the problem then it would have been solved already. So he has to gather the resources he’ll need to use to solve the problem.

Engagement

Once the protagonist has those resources, he goes about applying them to the problem.

Neutralization

There is a key moment where the solution and the problem meet and the solution neutralizes the problem conclusively. For example: throwing water on a witch. The audience needs to see the final event in full detail.

Prize

There wouldn’t have been a journey if there wasn’t a prize. The audience needs to see the protagonist pick up the prize in full detail.

Reckoning

The protagonist didn’t come all this way to get a prize and just hold it up for the crowd to admire the rest of his life. He planned on doing something with that prize. Show the first thing the protagonist does with the prize…or what it does to him.

Sunset

For the sake of closure, show the audience what the long term future holds for the protagonist.

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4 responses to “The Wise Sloth formula plot template

  • E.m.ikpah

    Turn this idea into a free downloadable software so that authors would benefit from its wisedom

    Like

  • HotMessinManhattan

    I love this formula. This is the first of the hundreds of books and internet sites I’ve scoured that is really helping me form my outline.

    Quick question: ACT II is generally more of a bear than the rest: do one of your outlines expound on that more? Is there a section of the ACT II outline I should keep repeating, to address all of the components?

    Thank you!

    Like

    • wise sloth

      Thanks for the compliment, and I’m glad I could help. I knew ACT 2 was lacking, and I just hadn’t gotten around to fixing it yet. I apologize for not being more proactive. Basically, what you need to do is repeat ACT 2, Part 2, 3 times. The way it works Part 1 gets the protagonist moving. Then in Part 2 the protagonist runs into a huge obstacle and overcomes it. Repeat Part 2, but make the next obstacle bigger to raise the tension. The protagonist will overcome that. Then repeat Part 2 one last time with an even bigger obstacle. You’re going to need to raise the stakes one last time for the final battle in Act 2, Part 3. And since you’ve already raised it 3 times, you’ll have forced yourself to make the final battle be something epic.

      Watch the movie, “Sucker Punch.” It’s a poorly made movie, but the lack of effort that went into the plot does an exemplary job in revealing the underlying mechanics of plot writing. The intro sets up the story by sending the protagonist to an insane asylum. In ACT 2, Part 1 the protagonist meets the guy who tells her what she needs to do to solve her problem. Then ACT 2, Part 2 repeats itself 3 times as she gets her map, lighter, and knife. The final battle in ACT 2, Part 3 is getting the key, which she has to take directly from the antagonist. Act 3, Part 1 she gets the prize by escaping the asylum. ACT 3, Part 2 she uses the prize (her freedom) to distract the guards and let her friend escape. And ACT 3, Part 3, we see what the future holds for her when she gets lobotomized.

      The 3 battles of Act 2, Part 2 are also easily observable in “The Wizard of Oz” as Dorthy collects allies, “Saving Private Ryan” as the soldiers run into increasingly dangerous pockets of Nazi resistance, “Blood Sport,” as Frank Duke fights progressively harder opponents in the ring and “Paranormal Activity” as the haunting ghost’s behavior becomes more direct and violent.

      Like

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