Story Templates

According to Pilar Alessandra, most successful stories have for key building blocks. We generally call them plot points, act breaks or story beats. They tend to fall in these major categories.

Act 1 Trauma – This sets the stage until the point where an event disrupts the character’s world forcing them to act.

Act 2A Training – This is the acquisition of skills or assistance which helps the main character achieve their goal.

Act 2B Trials – This is the meat of the story where the main character encounters obstacles, resistance, complications and setbacks. This leads up to the lowest point for the main character when they question whether it’s worth goin on.

Act 3 Triumphs – This follows a climax and involves resolving a problem. This could mean making peace with it, accepting it, compromising or overcoming it. The outcome may not necessarily be positive, but requires the character to grow.


The main character learns and achieves their destiny. The evolve into who they were meant to become, ready or not. Examples include X-Men, Harry Potter


They want something and need to work out how to get it. They achieve a bigger goal than originally intended. Examples include Moonrise Kingdom, Shrek


Dealing with a current event. The main character saves the day. Examples include Raiders Of The Lost Ark, Die Hard.


These are ensemble stories pursuing a collective need. Personal needs conflict with worldly needs. People must put aside their differences for the greater good. Individualism versus plurality. Examples include 30 Days Of Night.


Characters react to a direct threat on humanity. Personal battles must be overcome to save the world through collective cooperation. Examples include The Avengers, Cowboys and Aliens.


Injustice threatens main character’s secret. The secret is exposed combined with normal world creates a better person and redress the balance. Examples include Road to Perdition, Psycho


The main character asks a big question which relates to the theme. Questions create conflict and pose new questions. The can include comedy, mystery, sci-fi genres. Examples include Looper, Zodiac, The Hangover.


These are often coming of age stories where the selfish needs of the main characters incite the big idea and new knowledge. The experience creates better people. Examples include Hall Pass, Wedding Crashers

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