11 Days & 11 Ways to Plot Your Novel: John Truby’s 22-Step Structure #NaNoWriMoPrep #amwriting

John Truby is a screenwriter, director, and screenwriting teacher.

Over the last three decades, he has consulted on over 1,000 film scripts and is also known for creating Blockbuster, a screenwriting software program.

Truby argued that most screenwriting teachers emphasize the inner transformation of the characters, but not the effect their actions have on others. He crafted his own 22-step outline—The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller.


Truby’s 22-Step Structure

1. Self-revelation, need, and desire.

If you’ve been following 11 Days & 11 Ways from day 1, you’re probably beginning to see the trend here. Characters must start off wanting/needing something.

2. Ghost and story world

The “ghost” is an issue from the protagonist’s past that still haunts them and causes an internal struggle. The “story world” is an average day for your main character.

3. Weakness and need

“Weakness” is the central problem your character starts the story with. is the difficulty that the hero has at the start of the story. “Need” is what your hero needs in order to live their best life.

4. Inciting event

This is the action that kicks the hero out of their ordinary “story world.”

5. Desire

The thing that your hero desire. That desire drives the story.

6. Ally or allies

Allies can come in any form—friends, peers or a mentor that gives advice to our hero.

7. Opponent and/or mystery

The opponent is the person attacks the weakness your hero displayed earlier on. The mystery can be an unseen opponent.

8. Fake-ally opponent

A character in the story that appears to be an ally but ends up being an opponent in the story.

9. Changed desire and motive

This is the first turning point in the film where your hero receives new information or makes a decision that takes them in a new direction.

10. Plan

Your hero’s means of fulfilling their desire and reaching their goal.

11. Opponent’s plan and main counterattack

A plan designed to counteract your hero’s plan and stop them from reaching their goal or fulfilling their desire.

12. Drive

These are the steps within the plan that your hero takes.

13. Attack by ally

Your hero’s plan goes awry, steering him away from his original plan of attack.

14. Apparent defeat

All hope is lost and your hero seems ready to give up. The see no way out of their current predicament.

15. Second revelation and decision: Obsessive drive, changed desire and motive

Your hero realizes where they went wrong and decides to give it another shot. They’re still driven by their initial desire but their perspective may have changed.

16. Audience revelation

The reader sees or knows something that your hero doesn’t. They must have this bit of information to achieve their desires.

17.  Third revelation and decision

Your hero now knows everything there is to know and he’s now he is better prepared to face their opponent.

18. Gate, gauntlet, visit with death

This is the last sacrifice your hero will make to achieve what they desire. The final test before the battle.

19. Battle

The big boss level battle between your hero and the opponent.

20. Self-revelation

Your hero finally knows what they have been doing wrong and how to flip things around so that they can win.

21. Moral decision

Your hero follows through with the thing that they learned which is a true example of good versus evil. It may even require your hero’s death.

22. New equilibrium

This is the new normal with your hero back the “story world” you showed the reader at the start.

These last few plot structures will probably be better suited for authors writing in a genre other than romance but would like to add romantic or erotic elements to their overall plot. More than likely you would have to pair it with Romancing the Beat to play up the romance and sexy times as a subplot. In fact, a lot of the plot structures can be combined with Romancing The Beat. You would just need to figure out where these 22 points would fall in your three-act structure.

We’re getting close to the end of this thing! See you Monday for Nigel Watts’s 8 stage plot structure!