Writers recommend many different story structures including the classic story in seventeen chapters. It’s built around the Fichtean curve and employs three to four moments of crisis. Each escalates and raises the stakes.
It makes for fast-paced stories and works well across genres.
The Fichtean curve isn’t a curve. As a basic indicator of rising and falling action, it’s a triangle. Add the detail of crises and plot points, it’s more of a dorsal fin with spines.
A generic version of the story in seventeen chapters looks something like this:
- Introducing the world, conflicts and main character’s wants and desires (Ch 1-2)
- The Inciting Incident that subdues the wants (Ch 3)
- Everything is goes sideways (Ch 4)
- Everything goes down the trash compactor (Ch 5-6)
- Small win, a path to putting things back on track (Ch 7)
- Next fail. Everyone’s seriously screwed (Ch 8-9)
- Small win, a dim light of hope (Ch10-11)
- Progress! Things are looking up! (Ch12-14)
- Things hit the fan worse than ever, but learning from the experience so far helps the main character pull through (Ch 15-16)
- Things settle down and hint at a new life ahead (Ch 17)