The Novelry Five Fs of Story

Tags: Writing Story Structure

In her 90-Day Novel course, Louise Dean proposes a 5-step structure that she says is derived from Aristotle, Horace, and John Coetzee:

  1. Flaw: The hero is in a situation in which their fatal flaw or moral problem becomes no longer tenable. Note that in children's fiction this is often a "cosmic flaw" that pertains to luck or circumstances rather than a moral failing.
  2. False hope: The hero applies a remedy to their problem which at first seems to succeed but then fails, deepening the crisis
  3. Flight: The hero runs from their situation and gains insight into their flaw, recognizing their failing
  4. Fury: The hero rages the world or hell around them
  5. Facing it: The hero accepts their moral condition and reconciles with their true universal nature in life or death

These stages do not need to be the same length but they are phases through which the protagonist journeys as they change over the course of a novel.

  • See Novels recount transformation of characterNovels recount transformation of character


  • See Conflict reveals characterConflict reveals character
    Tags: [[Characterization]] [[Writing]]

    A novel illustrates the transformation of a character into someone capable of overcoming their fatal flaw. The trajectory of that transformation is revealed ...

Dean's structure corresponds roughly with other story structure templates.

  • See Matt Bird Story StructureMatt Bird Story Structure
    Tags: [[Writing]] [[Story Structure]]

    In Secrets of Story, Matt Bird outlines the following story for structure:

    First Quarter: A hero with a long-standing problem is presented with an intimidati...
    : Dean's false hope is similar to "the easy way" that the character first follows, while "fury" may correspond with Bird's "the hard way."


Novelry 2020