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The Story Template: Conquer Writer's Block Using the Universal Structure of Story (Great Ways to Write Your Novel) by [Deardon, Amy]
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The Story Template: Conquer Writer's Block Using the Universal Structure of Story (Great Ways to Write Your Novel) Kindle Edition

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product Description

Product Description

NOTE: NEW BOOK from Amy Deardon! For more in-depth help with a tricky yet critical skill, see Amy's new short book, How to Develop Story Tension: 13 Techniques Plus the Five Minute Magic Trick Guaranteed to Keep Your Readers Turning Pages

The Story Template: Conquer Writer's Block Using the Universal Structure of Story

Solve Writers Block

Writing a novel or screenplay sounds like a fabulous idea. But where do you start? And how do you finish? Award-winning author, Amy Deardon, answers these questions in The Story Template: Conquer Writer's Block Using the Universal Structure of Story.

This approach will help you focus your creativity and complete your unique and compelling story, script, or novel. With this tool and more than 100 targeted writing exercises, you will learn to:

  • Ascertain the four foundational story pillars, and use the "secret weapon" of the story template, to structure your story.

  • Build character depth with believable change.

  • Create subplots to raise tension while you deepen and contrast story themes.

  • Review writing techniques that shape your ideas into a compelling manuscript.

The Story Template is a product of Amy's comprehensive research-as well as her personal experience-for what makes a story "work." No matter your level of accomplishment, this book will help you build a better story.

AMY DEARDON is a writer, editor, and publisher as well as story coach. You can visit her on her websites at and

Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 422 KB
  • Print Length: 260 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Taegais Publishing, LLC; Gr edition (Aug. 26 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005JK6I9I
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #102,189 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm always a bit cynical when it comes to yet another writing craft book, but this one delivers. I used it while re-examining a current work in progress and figuring out what wasn't working right with the plot. I intend to use it as I plot my next book as well. Well worth the purchase. Especially like Chapter 9, the Plot Template Cheat Sheet.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is really helpful as a 'do it yourself' primer on setting up a story so that the writing flows the way it should do. Great addition to any writer's library.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x999b896c) out of 5 stars 69 reviews
57 of 58 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x999e9504) out of 5 stars The science of storycraft June 15 2012
By Jane Lebak - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
Amy Deardon's The Story Template has a basic premise: all successful stories are composed of thesame building blocks, and if you are going to write a successful story, you need to deal with those elements. We've seen this before in works like Blake Snyder's fantastic Save The Cat!, but Deardon breaks it down much further, and not only addresses issues of plot but also character arc, theme, and message. She includes new ideas I'd "gotten" but never really formulated for myself, such as "story bubbles" and "plot pillars."

She derived this algorithm by graphing the plot points and story structure of dozens of successful novels and movies. She's a research scientist, and she turned that kind of analytical study on the human art of telling stories.

The book is structured around exercises designed to guide you, step by step, through the process of plotting and framing your entire novel. The earliest exercises help you nail down what you love about the books you read, and then you begin framing out your own work. These exercises are thorough and will address every aspect of your book, from character development to setting to theme. The final exercises help you develop your logline, synopsis and pitch.

The detail is a bit unnerving at first. I'm primarily a seat-of-the-pants writer (meaning I do all my plotting in my head, and while I know the outcome I want, I let the characters figure out how to get there) so I found it intimidating, but I found that many of the exercises Deardon codifies in this book are things I would have worked out in my head, or by feel.

Whether you're a plotter or a SOTP-er, whether you write character-driven fiction or plot-driven fiction, this book can only help. Even if you don't do the exercises (I did not) it gives a window into how a well-formed story is crafted and all the major points it needs to touch upon to feel satisfying to the reader. For example, we all know a story should have a "midpoint" after which the characters change direction and the intensity ratchets up in anticipation of the final confrontation.

But Deardon points out two different kinds of midpoints (the false high and the false low) and the kinds of stories they tend to work with (e.g., if you protagonist didn't know there was a main villain before the midpoint, it typically goes with a specific kind of midpoint.) These are connections I wouldn't have made on my own, but Deardon with her engineering background was able to identify.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who writes fiction.
41 of 41 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x999e9558) out of 5 stars Not Just for Writer's Block April 4 2012
By Chris Yavelow - Published on
Format: Paperback
Like many authors, I make a habit of reading every new book about the craft of writing, only to find the same information restated with different chapter titles and subheads. When a book departs from this mold, it stands out. Amy Deardon's The Story Template is one of those.

The Story Template is subtitled, "Conquer Writer's Block Using the Universal Structure of Story." I don't have writer's block, but I do have a deep interest in the universal structure of story, so I was happy to find that the "conquering writer's block" parts consist of 110 exercises interspersed in grey boxes throughout the text. Easy to ignore, but I didn't--better to be prepared than sorry if writer's block occurs in the future.

Deardon's approach operates both above and below the traditional three-act model by adding outer and inner stories expressed in concrete and abstract aspects. These are the four "Story Pillars" that form the foundation of any story. The concrete outer story is the Plot, and the concrete inner story is Character, while the abstract expressions of these are Story World and Moral, respectively.

The story template, per se, appears in Level Three: Structure. Here, the author adds to the four foundational pillars a layer of "Story Posts": the inciting incident, argument, the door (from which the story emerges into act two), the midpoint, slide, darkest moment, help from outside, climax, and resolution. Also present at this level are the six stages of character arc: set-up protagonist identity, glimpse of the core longing, straddling identity and core, fear, living the core, and completing the journey.

At Level Four, the author unveils "Story Strands": the hidden need, the antagonist's story, the gift at climax, protagonist's mirror. A helpful "cheat sheet" is welcome in this section. Many of the other layer elements are summarized. Some examples: the switch away beat and the acclimation beat (beginning of act two), booby traps, hidden need triplet, and the crazy plan.

Levels Five, Six, and Seven cover the rest of the writing process, from storyboarding and synopsis, to writing individual scenes, editing, critique, and manuscript submission. The final 64 pages, more than a quarter of the book, contain much useful information. Besides an index to the exercises, an index to the book, and a glossary, Ms. Deardon provides five appendices: a list of writing books, self publishing resources, sample synopses, sample edits, and opening lines.

Some of the terminology is new, and I wish that the author had included more explanation of the relationship of her new terms with those that will be familiar to many readers of references like this. On the other hand, she supports her Story Template with more examples than I'm accustomed to seeing in such books--stories well known to most readers: The Wizard of Oz, The Fellowship of the Ring, Romeo and Juliet, The Count of Monte Cristo, Dracula, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Star Wars, and Titanic--in fact, in doing so she raises the bar for other books of this kind. Through these many examples, she establishes the validity of her Story Pillars, Story Posts, and Story Strands beyond question.

I'm happy to recommend this book to beginners and seasoned writers alike.
40 of 40 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x999e9990) out of 5 stars Do NOT read this book... Oct. 18 2011
By A. Chai - Published on
Format: Paperback
Unless, of course, you have a pen and a notebook in your lap. The author suggests reading the entire book as an overview before beginning the exercises, but you will find it impossible to resist the temptation to start doing them right away. This book is filled with "aha" moments that will move you from a shallow focus on technique and plot to a deeper revelation of the emotional/moral journey of the story arc.

I own a number of writing books, including the Marshall Plan, Plot and Structure, Writing to Change the World, Advice to Writers and more. I also have a collection of "technique" oriented books that emphasize dialogue, creating characters, and other details. The Story Template is unique for a number of reasons, but mainly because it takes a step back to show you what makes a story memorable, meaningful, and resonant.

The first unique aspect of The Story Template is the fact that it is based on objective research instead of "personal experience." In the Introduction, the author describes how she did an in-depth analysis of the story structure of a number of classic books and movies. Her findings showed that each of them shared a remarkable degree of similarity in underlying aspects of the story arc. Prepare to be amazed as a number of famous stories are deconstructed and compared.
The second unique aspect of The Story Template is that the writing excercises help you to plot your story with story cards in a way that maximizes the relevance of the story arc WITHOUT becoming some sort of a "write by numbers" sort of manual. (ie: this is not The Marshall Plan) It will help you see the "hidden need" of your character, and you will see how the inner story relates to the outer story. This will really make a difference as you plot your novel.
Finally, The Story Template is unique because it has everything you need to get from idea to submission. It is very practical and provides lots of useful resources. It is kind of like three books in one: a plotting book, a technique book, and a submission advice book. It even talks about receiving criticism, not that I would ever need that!
The bottom line: Worth the money, worth the read. Will almost certainly give you surprising moments of insight.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x999e9d50) out of 5 stars Buy this book. You won't be sorry. Trust. Sept. 8 2012
By Seriously - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A couple of years ago, I vowed to quit reading other people's books about writing because they all seemed so similar and suffocatingly prescriptive. Sure, I found helpful bits and pieces, but nothing stood out as a preferred resource that I would come back to over and over again as I write. With that in mind, I have no idea what possessed me to click the Amazon e-mail link and view the sales pitch for The Story Template, but I am so glad I did.

Maybe it was the word "template" that appealed to me. As a technical writer and editor, I use templates all the time. At work, I am a ruthless planner. No detail is too small. All contingencies must be addressed. As a fiction writer, I am a complete panster. My muses sing, and I follow the song until the last note fades. Then I try to shape the organic whole into a real chapter-by-chapter book: each song so beautiful in my head, each attempt at shaping the book such an utter failure.

After reading Ms. Deardon's book, I understand what I am doing wrong. More importantly, I understand how to fix the problems in my stories. I plan to apply Ms. Deardon's template to all of the works I have in process. Ms. Deardon clearly illustrates her points through well-chosen classic and contemporary literary and film examples, and she manages to sound warm and friendly while delivering a clinical dissection of SUCCESSFUL story structure. It was great to read a truly helpful book about writing. I highly recommend this book.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x999e9cfc) out of 5 stars Hated this book... until that first 'ah-HA!' moment March 10 2013
By Aisling D. - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'll be honest. When I began reading this book, it bored me out of my mind. I'm not a fiction writer, I'm a nonfiction writer, and sometimes I think our brains work differently. Really differently.

The thing is, I want to break into fiction, and I have a good story in mind. So, I bought this book (and several others) to learn the craft of story building.

Well, I was about to toss this book aside. It just didn't excite me. However, having paid good money for it, I decided to give the book another chance. I tried the first few exercises.

The first exercise was pretty good, but not great.

The second one was interesting. I was encouraged.

By the fourth exercise, lighting struck. In a good way.

See, there was one character I wanted to include in my novel, but his character was all over the place and seemed to drag the story down.

Then, during the fourth exercise from this book -- and I have no logical explanation why -- I had the "ah-HA!" moment that brought my story to life... including the character I loved but just couldn't explain to myself, much less to my readers.

Basically, he's "Boston Rob," from the "Survivor" TV series.

No, he's not really Boston Rob. However, by defining my character in terms of a real person (as real as "reality TV" gets, that is), I had something to work with. As someone rooted in nonfiction, that's exactly what I needed to kick this novel into gear.

So, while I'm not quite frothing-at-the-mouth excited about this book, the exercises work. As a writer, that's what matters.

Other books may be more inspiring and motivate me to get another book written. This one gave me the in-depth insights I needed to get my first work of fiction on paper, with a clear vision of where the book is going.

I highly recommend "The Story Template" if you're working on a novel. The author asks the right questions to pump authenticity into your characters and story line. And frankly, that can be difference between a book that sits on your hard drive and never gets completed... and a book that you publish and your readers love.