The Wise Sloth formula plot template

Below is a story outline. Below that are the terms used in the outline.

Click here to see an illustrated story board that very, very, very easily explains this formula plot.

Generic Story Outline

ACT 1

Introduction-

  • Setup-
  • Delivery-
  • Outcome-

Cataclysm-

  • Setup-
  • Delivery-
  • Outcome-

Decision-

  • Setup-
  • Delivery-
  • Outcome-

ACT 2

Preparation-

  • Setup-
  • Delivery-
  • Outcome-

Engagement-

  • Setup-
  • Delivery-
  • Outcome-

Neutralization-

  • Setup-
  • Delivery-
  • Outcome-

ACT 3

Prize-

  • Setup-
  • Delivery-
  • Outcome-

Reckoning-

  • Setup-
  • Delivery-
  • Outcome-

Sunset-

  • Setup-
  • Delivery-
  • Outcome-

Terms

Setup

This is where you see the cause of what’s about to happen.

Delivery

This is the event the cause…caused to happen.

Outcome

This is what happened as a result of that thing happening.

Introduction

Introduce the protagonist and the setting. Show the protagonist in his natural setting doing what he always does the way he always does it. Show how life usually reacts to him doing what he usually does. Show what the protagonist loves, hates, fears and hopes for most. Show what he’s best and worst at. Show who he is and who is isn’t, what he does and what he doesn’t.

Cataclysm

The worst possible thing that could possibly happen to the protagonist happens. He loses that which is most dear to him.

Decision

The protagonist must decide to set the universe right again. Show how he makes that decision and why.

Preparation

If the protagonist already had everything necessary to solve the problem then it would have been solved already. So he has to gather the resources he’ll need to use to solve the problem.

Engagement

Once the protagonist has those resources, he goes about applying them to the problem.

Neutralization

There is a key moment where the solution and the problem meet and the solution neutralizes the problem conclusively. For example: throwing water on a witch. The audience needs to see the final event in full detail.

Prize

There wouldn’t have been a journey if there wasn’t a prize. The audience needs to see the protagonist pick up the prize in full detail.

Reckoning

The protagonist didn’t come all this way to get a prize and just hold it up for the crowd to admire the rest of his life. He planned on doing something with that prize. Show the first thing the protagonist does with the prize…or what it does to him.

Sunset

For the sake of closure, show the audience what the long term future holds for the protagonist.

If you liked this post you may like these as well:

1 written, general explanation of how to plot a story.

8 written, explanations of how to write action stories, fables, children stories, mysteries, sitcoms and more.

Notes on writing sitcoms using a formula plot template

The Mechanic” is a very short metaphor for how to write a formulaic story.

Version 1.0 is1 page long and shows the theory behind the formula plot, but it doesn’t give you room to write in it.

Version 2.0. isn’t very pretty, but includes templates for short, medium length and long stories and shows the theory behind the formula plot.

Version 2.1 is easy on the eye. It includes templates for short, medium length and long stories. It doesn’t show the theory behind the formula plot, but it’s less confusing than version 2.0.

Version 3.0 explains the theory and walks you through the process of mapping a full length story using a comic book style outline.

Version 3.1 is a text based PDF document that is easy to follow.

Version 3.2 has cartoons that walk you through part of the process. It might be easier to learn plotting from this template, but 3.0 or 3.2 might be easier to work with. I might make a PG-13 version of this document at some point.

Formula Plot 3.3 is what you see above. It’s a very condensed version of what’s in Versions 2.0–3.2.

story templates 3.4 doesn’t directly teach you the theory behind story plotting. Instead if gives you 36 generic paths for your story to take and lets you see how different plot paths can come together.

The 36 Adventures of Captain Buigardo: A choose your own adventure story plot template writing prompt. It is what is says it is.

Blank Comic Book Script Template– You need to understand the theory behind the Wise Sloth formula template in order to use this because it doesn’t come with instructions. If you need instructions, download version 3.3. You can also use this to plot non-comic book stories.

If you want to see some stories plotted using this formula plot template, head over to the free E-books and Comics page. Alternately, you can head over to the Table of Contents and scroll down to the very bottom to see some TL;DR stories that were plotted using this method.

Struggling with writer’s block? Check out these 16 tips to overcoming writer’s block.

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Originally published at thewisesloth.com on January 29, 2011.

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