Short Story Formula Plot Template

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 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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