The Twelve Essential Questions Of Story


For those fellow scribes who enjoy delving into the deepest layers of storytelling, visit our friends at Dramatica. They have condensed their knowledge into a handy tome called Dramaticapedia.

Ask yourself the following questions before you start writing your story:

  1. Does the main character change or remain steadfast? Story gurus typically tell us that a character must change? However, if they cause change in others, they often remain steadfast themselves (traveling angels). Sometimes they change. The change could be an attitude, belief or goal.
  2. Does the main character start or stop a behavior? Does the main character adopt new actions, attitudes, characteristics or beliefs (start) or cease behaviors they have outgrown or limit them (stop)?
  3. Is the main character a be-er (internalized behaviors) or do-er (externalized behaviors)? This is often referred to as a passive or active protagonist, respectively.
  4. Is the main character mainly logical (linear) or intuitive (holistic)? Do they think or do they feel?
  5. Does the story plot progress mainly be decisions or actions?
  6. Is the story ending determined by a time limit (time lock) or limit in the extent of actions (option lock)?
  7. Is the story outcome a success or failure? Have the original goals been achieved or not? Bittersweet endings often found in dramedies or tragicomedies have a combination of both; a success has been achieved, but at a great cost.
  8. Is the story judgement good or bad? Has the main character resolved their personal issues or not?
  9. What is the overall story throughline? This is basically the backdrop against which the main story takes place; situation (an external situation), activity (an external activity), fixed attitude (an internal state of mind), and manipulation (a internal manner of thinking).
  10. What is the overall story concern? This is an area of activity shared by all characters.
  11. What is the overall story issue? This is essentially the theme or the central issue explored.
  12. What is the overall story problem? What is the source of the main character’s problem that motivates them to act?
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