There are 5 common story structures used in writing. The structure is the thing that is most important for the story. When you find yourself not knowing which way to go you can fall back on one of these story structures to help get your story more focused. The easiest way to figure out what the story is about is to look at how the character can resolve the situation. Lord of the rings starts in the shire and ends when they return, but it isn’t a milieu story. If they came back early the shire would be destroyed so the story is actually about the ring. It’s the one thing everyone is after and the one thing that will destroy the villain. So the story is a token story. Once they get rid of the token the story is over. they can go home.
The Milieu Story
Milieu stories center on a location, house, country. The story will start when the characters enter a place and end when they leave the location. Common examples are The wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland. All stories may deal with getting through a location but a milieu story is all about getting through a location and escaping.
The Token Story
Token stories center around objects, things. The story begins when the character comes into possession of something and ends when they get rid of it or come to accept it. The token doesn’t always have to be an inanimate object. It could be a person , animal or even a curse as well. In some cases it can be the reverse, where character is looking for the token and the story ends when they get rid of it. In any case it is something that the character doesn’t want and spends the story trying to get rid of. Examples are Lord of the rings, MIB 1, The gods must be crazy, King Kong. Raiders of the Lost Ark. Fifth element.
The Idea Story
These kinds of stories focus on a mystery, or a question. The story begins with a question and ends when it is answered. Examples are every cop show and murder mystery.
The Event Story
This kind of story begins when something dramatic happen that changes everything. An event that changes the character’s life. Something goes wrong and the character must now work to fix it. It can be a farm boy who comes into possession of two droids followed by the empire (Star Wars), It can be an asteroid about to hit the world (Armageddon),
The Character Story
This kind of story begins when the character is so angry, miserable, or down on his luck that he has to make a change. The story ends when the character finds happiness, peace or learns to deal with his situation. Common Examples are Antz, Vampire$. This is about the character growing or changing. All stories involve characters but not all characters grow. It is not always important for a character to grow unless it is a character story