Story Plotting · Writing Craft Wednesday

Writing Craft Wednesday: Michael Hauge’s 6 Stage Story Structure

In my search for the perfect story structure and plotting, I have read many books and continue to do so. However, so far, Michael Hauge’s 6 Stage Story Structure has been my favorite. I love his linear, clear-cut structure.

 

Mr. Hauge’s structure is centered around script writing and is very formulaic. Although the percentages are more a reference to script writing, they can be loosely used for novel writing.

 

Michael-Hauge-six-stages-plot-structure-2014-1024x300.png

 

Stage 1  – Setup or “Everyday Life”    (0%-10%)

Outer Journeyroad-1165069_640

  • Introduce your hero in their everyday world
  • Create identification with 2 or more of the following: 
    • sympathy
    • put them in jeopardy
    • make them likable
    • make the hero funny
    • make them powerful

Inner Journey

  • The hero exists completely in their identity.
    • Their identity may be centered on what they do, their religion, or how they want others to see them.
    • Their identity is what protects their core essence. (People pleaser vs “I am fine the way I am.”)

 

 


Turning Point 1 – Presented with an Opportunity (10% marker)

Outer Journey 

  • Creates in the hero a desire to move into a new situation, something new
  • This is not the desire for the true endpoint.

Inner Journey

  • Hero gets a glimpse of what it would be like to live in their essence
  • They refuse the call to change

 

 

Stage 2 – New Situation   (10% – 25%)open-doors-1518244_640

Outer Journey

  • The adjustment
    • What are the new rules?
    • How can I get along?
  • Usually, hero believes it will be easy.

Inner Journey

  • Hero gets a glimpse of what it would be like to live in their essence.
  • Reject living in their essence.

 

 

Turning Point 2 – Change of Plans (25% marker)

Outer Journey

  • The visible end goal is established.
  • The character realizes, “No, I have to do this.”

Inner Journey

  • A foot in who their initial identity is and a foot in who they really are – their essence. 
    • They struggle back and forth with who they are and what they were.

 

 

Stage 3 – Progress  (25% – 50%)

Outer Journey

  • The plan seems to be working.
  • There must be conflict, but the obstacles are avoided, overcome, delayed, or by-passed.

Inner Journey

  • They are still straddling the fence of their essence and identity. 

 

 

Turning Point 3 – The Point of No Return (50%)

Outer Journey

  • When the hero is closer to the goal than the start, town-sign-1158385_640.jpgand they have become so committed they burn their bridges, making it impossible to turn back.
  • The hero’s life as he knew it is over.

Inner Journey

  • Their identity is stripped away.
  • They realize their essence and begin pursuing it.

 

 

Stage 4 – Complications and Higher Stakes (50% – 75%)

Outer Journey

  • It is more difficult to accomplish the goal, but also more important to accomplish.
  • They have more to lose.

Inner Journey

  • They continue pursuing who they really are.

 

 

Turning Point 4 – The Major Setback (75%)

Outer Journeydinosaur-1564323_640

  • The reader has the sense that all is lost.
  • The plan they had is out the window but they can’t turn back.
  • They must make one last push or die while trying.

Inner journey

  • The hero has fully committed to living in their essence but now the outside world starts coming in and frightening them. 
  • The hero retreats back into their identity. They run away from who they are.

 

 

Stage 5 -The Last Push (75% to ?)

Outer Journey

  • Do it or die while trying.
  • Everything is put on the line.

Inner Journey

  • They realize they don’t like who they were anymore. They have had a taste of who they truly are and they have to go after it.
  • They have to find their destiny, even if it means risking everything to get what they want.

 

 

Turning Point 5 – Climax (% Depends)

Outer Journey

  • All the problems are resolved.
    • The hero can fail, succeed, or change their mind.
  • The length of the climax depends on how many problems you have to resolve.

Inner Journey

  • The moment they fully realize who they are.

 

 

Stage 6 – The Aftermathlove-163690_640

Outer Journey

  • Responding the climax emotionally.
  • The wedding, reconciliation, etc.

Inner Journey

  • The hero is going to live their new life as they truly are.

 

 

Interested in examples and learning more about either Mr. Hauge’s structure or the hero’s journey? I highly recommend buying the audible recording of his and Chris Vogular’s presentations. It is worth every penny. I have listened to it half a dozen times already and plan on listening again as I drive to Nashville for the ACFW Conference next week.

 

Michael Hauge’s website also does a great job showing examples.

 

Tell me what you think about this plotting format? Does it make sense to you? Are there any movies or books you can identify with this plot structure?

 

6 thoughts on “Writing Craft Wednesday: Michael Hauge’s 6 Stage Story Structure

  1. I do like it, but for me, there still seems to be a lot of stages and turning points. Ah, but it’s much like life. So many paths and twists and turns. 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

    Like

    1. I’m sorry it took so long to respond. Life is chaos. 🙂 I agree it has a lot of turning points, but if you look at the hero’s journey model it has a lot of elements and turning points as well. I have yet to really grasp it and apply it. Hauge’s version is just a little bit more straightforward to me, and I can see it mirrored in the books I read and in the three-act plot system as well. I am still learning many different styles and not relying on just one person’s methodology. With life chaos right now, the linear is super appealing. LoL What is your preferred method of plotting?

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      1. Yeah, I tried a chapter by chapter outline. I planned out the entire book and then when I actually started writing I got to chapter three before it all fell apart. I am too much of a panster, even when I do plan. I like the vagueness but set formula the 6 stage allows. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I am going o try the snowflake method, but also want to see about other methods. Can wait to listen to the audio on the way to the conference!

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