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The seven critical steps of storytelling according to the script doctor John Truby

The scriptwriter and author of "The Anatomy of Story" explains the different critical steps of the narrative structure and its dramatic codes beneath the surface.

In other words, the story's DNA.


  1. Weakness(es) and need(s)

  2. Desire

  3. Opponent

  4. Hero's plan

  5. Final match

  6. Self-revelation

  7. New equilibrium


Sunset Boulevard (Billy Wilder, 1951)



A scaffold to help building a plot



  • Weakness(es) and need(s)

First, Truby tells us the hero has a psychological, moral weakness - or both - that ruins his/her life. A mental weakness has an impact on himself, and a moral weakness means his/her behavior affects others.

What does he/she need to fulfill to improve his/her life? From the beginning, we should think and create the main enemy as the major obstacle to overcome, to access the purpose. The final confrontation with his enemy will allow him to walk through his weaknesses and fears.

Furthermore, the hero's need is the source of the story, but to keep everyone in suspense, he must not be aware of it until the self-revelation (at the end) or the story already finished. Endow your hero with a physical need and also a moral necessity : his decisions and actions will impact and even hurt the other characters. The hero isn't perfect, and all these weaknesses will engage the audience. In this way, we will, as viewers, identify with him.