Help Desk | Storytelling 101

“…the dash between the years” ~ Linda Ellis


Imagine, it’s the eleventh hour and you feel the end is near. You pause and ask yourself, “What have I done with my life? Have I really lived?

What does my “dash” reveal? ”

OK, so it may be a bit morbid. But what if someone had to tell your life’s story; how would it read?

In their book, “How to Tell A Story: The Secret of Writing Captivating Tales”, renown writer instructor Gary Provost (1944-1995) and literary agent Peter Rubie give us some insight on the structure of life’s journey.

Rubie and Provost say that 90% of stories you’ve ever read, told or heard follow a plotting formula that reads like this:

The Plot

Buy “How to Tell a Story”

“Once upon a time, something happened to a woman, and she decided that she would pursue a goal. So she devised a plan of action, and even though there were forces trying to stop her, she moved forward because there was a lot at stake, And just as things seemed as bad as they could get, she learned an important lesson and when offered the prize she sought so strenuously, she had to decide whether or not to take it, and in making the decision(s), she satisfied a need that had been created by something in her past.

~Gary Provost, How to Tell a Story

As you survey your life, you’ll probably find some points on your dash that read just like this plot. But the real gem of this outline helps you stay the course in both your fiction writing and through the difficult times in life.


A Protagonist has (Who)

to overcome a challenge(What)

to achieve a goal (Why)

copyright 2016 mh