Story Structure: 8 Essentials for Outlining Your Novel or Script

——   Created by Rebecca Loomis

8 Essentials for Outlining Your Novel or Script

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More about this course

There's no one-size-fits-all approach to writing story, but having nowhere to start can be intimidating. Whether you're a panster or a plotter, novelist or screenwriter, these eight essential story points will help you define the heart of your story and build your conflict towards the most emotionally satisfying climax.

Each lesson will go over one of the eight essential story points, putting it into context within a three-act structure and giving you tips on how to utilize it for your unique story. You will also have the opportunity to see how these points have been used in successful stories of varying genres. Your class project will be an outline of your own story, using these eight points.

No story, however, is 100% plot-driven. Character must be taken into account as well! For the best results, pair this course with my other writing class, Making A Hero: Protagonist Development for Film & Fiction.

The course project

Your class project will be an outline of your novel or script using the eight essential story points within a three-act structure, as listed below. Complete your project by following these two steps:

  1. Copy and paste this outline into your project and add your notes in bold. Each of you will have a different outlining style: your notes may be long descriptions of a scene or simple bullet points to help you stay on track.
  2. If you've completed any of my other writing courses, include a link to those class projects as well, as they relate to this story.

Outline Template - copy & paste this into your project:


  • Essential Story Point #1: The Hook
  • Optional: Save the Cat
  • Essential Story Point #2: Upsetting the Status Quo
  • Essential Story Point #3: Doorway of No Return


  • Essential Story Point #4: The Initial Plan
  • Optional: Trouble Brewing
  • Essential Story Point #5: Midpoint & Mirror Moment
  • Optional: Mounting Forces
  • Essential Story Point #6: All Hope Is Lost


  • Essential Story Point #7: Transformation
  • Essential Story Point #8: Climax & Resolution


Remember: you don't have to fill these out in order! This can be as messy or as clean a process as you like. Once you've posted your outline, you can always go back and change it! Writing isn't so cut and dry as finishing a check list. As you develop your characters, your plot will change as well – and vice versa. You may think your story incomplete, or too rough to put online. Post it anyway. This will help you defeat the blank page and the lie of writer's block. Just write, and have confidence that it will solidify into something blissful.

Disclaimer: I adapted this course from a wide variety of tips and tricks presented by other authors and teachers. It is my personal approach using what I've learned, and I suggest you develop your own approach as well. For more sources of information, I highly recommend the following books:

  • The Art of Character: Creating Memorable Characters for Fiction, Film and TV by David Corbett
  • Write Your Novel from the Middle by James Scott Bell
  • Save the Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need by Blake Snyder

12 Lessons

Class overview
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Intro to Act I: The Setup
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Act I - Point #1: The Hook
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Act I - Point #2: Upsetting the Status Quo
Act I - Point #3: Doorway of No Return
Intro to Act II: Rising Conflict
Act II - Point #4: The Initial Plan
Act II - Point #5: Midpoint & Mirror Moment
Act II - Point #6: All Hope is Lost
Act III - Point #7: Transformation
Act III - Point #8: Climax & Resolution
Enroll in this course for $19.97
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Class benefits

  • Certificate of Completion
  • 14 day free trial
  • 24/7 streaming access
  • Project included
  • Teacher Q&A
  • 27m of on-demand video
  • 1 downloadable file
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About the instructor

Rebecca is a freelance photographer, graphic designer and author, with experience in marketing, videography, and more. When she crawls out of her introverted Hobbit-hole, Rebecca enjoys adventuring the great outdoors, social dancing and making delicious food!

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