July 22, 2012

The Seven Sentence Story

By nakae via foter.com
The title of my blog mentions that I am a neophyte writer, and I mean it. I’m really new. I am writing a novel for the very first time. I am unschooled and inexperienced. So, when I stumble upon a little tool like The Seven Sentence Story structure, I get really jazzed.

Sometimes, when I sit down to write, I have a really hard time getting started. I need some sort of warm up. Often, I read the last chapter I wrote, or my favourite chapter. But today, I read my outline, and wow, did I find some holes.  I stared blankly at it, temporarily defeated.

So, I surfed. I checked out my blog and admired my little Goodreads widget, the one that shows, in little thumbnails, all the books that I’ve read in the last several years. I saw one of them, and I admit, I was a little embarrassed that it was there. Out of curiosity I clicked on it to see if I’d reviewed it, and I had. I read my review and scrolled down and read some more reviews (most of which were much more virulent than mine) and one of the reviewers tried to show the plotless-ness of the book by applying the Seven Sentence Story structure to it. This structure, transposed over that story, showed how abysmally plotted it was (or rather, wasn’t), which was fun to read, and it offered a really keen insight into the tent poles of story. I applied it to my WIP, and it forced me back further than I'd wanted to go; but once I hunkered down and repositioned (and re-wrote) the major stepping stones, I had a much stronger, and more helpful outline. YAY!

I was so excited about it that as soon as I was finished typing up the new outline, I published this post. I’m sure many of you know of the Seven Sentence Story already, but just in case you don’t, here it is (as per Edward Willet):

  1. Introduce what the main character wants and the first action he/she takes to accomplish the goal.
  2. The results of the action the character takes from sentence #1 has to make the situation worse.  The character should be farther from the goal now. 
  3. Based on the new situation, the character takes a second action to accomplish the goal.
  4. The results of the second action the character takes from sentence #3 is to make the situation worse.  The character should be even farther from the goal now.  
  5. Based on the new situation, the character takes a third and final action to accomplish the goal.  
  6. This third action either accomplishes the character’s goal, fails to accomplish the goal, or there is an unusual but oddly satisfying different result of the last action.  
  7. The denouement.  This sentence wraps the story up.  It could tell the reader how the character felt about the results, or provide a moral, or tell how the character’s life continued on.



  1. That sounds like so much work. Good luck!

    1. It is, but I find I can't write unless I know exactly where I'm going, in the next scene and through the story overall. It's good, because it gets me excited when I solve a problem, like filling those holes. I now have a more complete picture of how everything comes to a head, and how my MC (main character) grows into the hero we want her to be (I hope!).
      Thanks for reading! xoxo


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