Storytelling is one of the oldest forms of communication. It is a way to share experiences, connect with others, and entertain.
There are many different types of storytelling, but all have the same basic structure.
In this blog post, we will discuss the structure of storytelling and how you can use it to improve your narrative writing skills!
We will also discuss the different types of storytelling structures.
What is Storytelling Structure?
Basic storytelling structure, also known as narrative structure or plotline, refers to the organizational framework that underlies a story. For a narrative to be truly engaging and effective, it must have a beginning, middle, and end that work together to create a cohesive whole.
Each part of the story must not only stand on its own as a compelling piece of writing, but it must also feed into and further develop the overarching narrative arc. When all three sections are simultaneously well-developed and interact seamlessly with each other, we are left feeling engaged and satisfied with our reading experience.
Narrative storytelling also relies on key structural elements like characters, settings, and a conflict resolution. The characters are the people or entities who drive the story forward; they provide us with both motivation and perspective. Settings give context to a narrative and can help establish atmosphere or tone. Finally, conflict resolution is when all of these pieces come together to form a satisfying conclusion for the reader.
Whether we are in it for the thrills or the chills or simply wish to be transported to another world entirely, stories with strong story structures have lasting power because they draw us in with their captivating unfolding of events.
Whether weaving together grand high fantasy adventures with scores of character POVs or intimate realist short stories with little dialogue between characters, authors can create powerful narratives by understanding and employing the elements of good storytelling structure.
Oral storytelling structure
Oral storytelling has a very distinct structure compared to writing. Unlike written stories, which often have an indefinite amount of time to be conveyed, oral stories must be told in a finite amount of time.
Oral stories need to be easily digestible in one sitting, typically with little or no pauses between scenes or events. This means that the amount of detail that can be included is necessarily limited, leading to more concise and succinct narratives.
In addition, the conciseness of oral storytelling tends to favor omniscient points of view and head-hopping, rather than developing distinct perspectives for each character.
This is because speakers must be able to convey the thoughts and feelings of multiple characters in a short period of time, rather than taking the time to fully explore the inner worlds of individual characters through shifting viewpoints.
Overall, then, the structure of an oral story is very different from that of a written one, due to its unique demands and constraints on narrative complexity and depth.
Documentary storytelling structure
Documentary filmmaking can help us learn where the truth lies in past or current events. Documentarians create non-fiction films that present a real-life truth in cinematic form, using various techniques and compelling story structures to draw audiences in and make them care about the subject matter on camera.
The documentary structure is often determined by the subject matter of the film, but in general, a documentary is made up of the beginning, the middle, and the end, sometimes referred to as the “three-act structure.”
In the beginning or exposition, the film typically introduces the subject matter and sets up the context for the story.
The middle, or rising action, is where the bulk of the story takes place and tension builds towards the climax.
The end, or resolution, is when the story comes to a close and any loose ends are tied up.
This traditional storytelling structure can be applied to any number of documentary subjects, from history to current affairs. By following this structure, documentarians can ensure that their films are engaging and informative, helping us to learn where the truth lies in past or current events.
Japanese storytelling structure
In Japan, kishōtenketsu is a quite popular method of structuring tales, poems, and even debates. To summarize, the four-act structure comprises an introduction (起), advancement (承), twist (転), and conclusion (結).
It happens like this: act one introduces the subject, context, characters, and so on. Act two expands on what was established in act one. The main event in terms of horror tales is act three when a major twist occurs that transforms everything seen thus far.
Finally, act four wraps things up by bringing everything you learned in the first two parts into a final clash with new information from the third. Because the third act twist revolves around this change in the third act, it is not particularly suited for delineating conflict, as does the Western three-act structure.
Instead, it communicates a sense of discovery and a shift in the viewpoint that has far-reaching implications. This is especially effective in the horror genre because if what you discover in the third act is a little frightening, everything else will seem even more so by association.
Storytelling Structure Template
Storytelling is one of the oldest and most universal forms of communication. Whether it’s a bedtime story, a Hollywood blockbuster, or a company mission statement, all stories share common structural elements. By understanding these narrative structures, you can craft more engaging and effective stories.
One of the most popular Storytelling Structure Templates is Three Act Structure. Digital storytelling often follows the same three-act structure found in traditional literature and film.
This template divides a story into three parts: setup, conflict, and resolution. The setup introduces the characters and setting, while the conflict raises the stakes and creates tension. The resolution is when the conflict is resolved and the story comes to a close.
Three Act Structure is often used in movies and novels, but it can also be applied to shorter stories and even business presentations.
Another Storytelling Structure Template is Freytag’s Pyramid. This template also divides a story into three parts: exposition, rising action, and climax. However, unlike Three Act Structure, Freytag’s Pyramid also includes a falling action and denouement.
The exposition introduces the characters and setting, while the rising action builds suspense and leads to the climax. The falling action is when the tension starts to resolve itself, and the denouement is when all loose ends are tied up.
Freytag’s Pyramid is often used in novels and plays, but it can also be applied to shorter stories.No matter which Storytelling Structure Template you choose, remember that the most important part of any story is the ending.
The ending is what will stay with your audience long after they’ve finished reading or watching. So make sure it’s satisfying, surprising, and memorable.
How to Structure Narrative Writing?
Orientation is the first step in understanding any narrative. In order to set the scene and establish the who, when, and where of your story, it is important to provide a clear introduction that succinctly describes your characters, setting, and time period.
Whether your narrative is a gripping novel or an exciting piece of short fiction, it is essential to engage readers from the start by establishing a strong sense of plot and momentum from the very beginning.
Complications and events form the heart of any well-written narrative. During this stage of the story, your main characters will be confronted with challenges and obstacles that require them to think outside the box in order to overcome adversity.
These plot points should be seamlessly interwoven so as not to disrupt the flow of your narrative, but instead, build tension and suspense as your characters’ adventures unfold.
At last, we come to a resolution: the moment when all of the conflicts introduced in earlier stages are finally brought to a satisfying conclusion. Whether you choose a happy or bittersweet ending for your story is up to you; however, it is important that whatever outcome you choose feels both logical and true to the experiences described in your narrative.
Ultimately, this final stage is what gives meaning and depth to your story, so take care to craft an ending that will resonate with your readers long after they’ve finished reading.
When it comes to storytelling, there is no one-size-fits-all approach; instead, the most important thing is to find a structure that works for you and your audience.
By understanding the different types of storytelling structures available, you can experiment with different ways of crafting your own unique narratives. So go forth and tell your stories, my friends; the world is waiting to hear them.
What Helps you Establish a Structure for your Communication in Storytelling?
The most crucial step to ensure that your communication is on track is to create storyboards. The narrative storyboard serves as a framework for your message. It’s essentially a framework.
As you go through the specifics, it may change, but having a structure in place from the start will set you up for success. When at all possible, secure buy-in from your client or stakeholder in this stage. It will assist guarantee that what you’re proposing meets the need and cut down on future iterations.
It’s a good idea to avoid beginning your storyboarding with your presentation program. It’s easy to get into slide-making mode without considering how the components fit together, resulting in a huge deck that leaves nothing unsaid.
I recommend going low-tech in this instance since a whiteboard, post-it notes, or standard paper are all viable options. Personally, I prefer using post-it notes when storyboarding because you can rearrange and add and remove pieces quickly to investigate different narrative paths.
What can Speech Writers Learn/Use from Storytelling Structures?
Great speeches share many of the same features as great stories. Both need a clear beginning, middle, and end. They need to hook the audience in from the very beginning and maintain their attention throughout.
And they need to provide a satisfying conclusion that leaves the audience wanting more. By understanding and utilizing common storytelling structures, speechwriters can create more engaging and effective speeches.
From the classic three-act structure to more unusual formats like the hero’s journey, there is a template out there that can help you craft a truly memorable speech. So next time you’re tasked with writing a speech, don’t be afraid to think like a storyteller.
With a little bit of creativity, you can give your audience an experience they won’t soon forget.
Storytelling Structure – Conclusion
Whether you’re creating a story as an artistic exercise or trying to get the attention of the audience, mastering the art of oral or written storytelling takes time and patience.
How to extract ideas from your own experiences and perceptions, experiment with structure, and improve your craft one sentence at a time. Remember that part of being a good storyteller is doing a bit of quality control.
Your reader or viewer doesn’t have to love every story choice you make, but they always want to feel confident that you, as the storyteller, have a clear grip on all the characters and plotlines that you’ve introduced.
So don’t be afraid to experiment, and most importantly, have fun! Storytelling should be an enjoyable process for both you and your audience.