K.M. Weiland’s Story Structure Database

Having recently completed my first novel (only took me 15 years, ha!), I’m faced with the prospect of writing a sequel that not only continues the journey, but improves upon the experience for the audience. No longer willing to fly by the seat of my pants, I sought out Weiland’s database for help with structuring my plot and so far, it’s greatly improved my understanding of how and why story plots work.

It’s been my privilege and pleasure to have access to this database, which has been curated by author K.M. Weiland. I encourage you to check our her award-winning site: Helping Writers Become Authors for many helpful tips and tricks for improving your craft.

So what is the Story Structure Database?
It’s an curated listing of book/movie plots broken down by narrative plots and structural themes. See the screenshot to the left to get an idea.

Weiland knows what she’s talking about here, as she’s written two critically acclaimed books on the subject: Structuring Your Novel and Structuring Your Novel Workbook.

Here’s how you use it:

  • Step 1: Go to the Story Structure Database
  • Step 2: Read through the definitions of each point Ie. Inciting Event
  • Step 3: Pick a movie or book you like from the list. Alphabetized version is in the top right hand corner.
  • Step 4: Click the name of your choice for the plot breakdown.

That’s it! 

The idea is to gain an understanding of why the plot was configured the way it was. For example, take a look at this example: Batman Begins. The Inciting Event to a story does not even have to take place in the present! Once you’ve read a few examples, see if you can apply this structure to the last book or movie you enjoyed. Then try to see if you can pinpoint the similar points in your own written work. If you can’t figure out what they are, then take use this opportunity to refine your plot.

Above all else, keep writing and don’t give up!

VM Sawh