Rock: The Structure Behind All Stories

“Rock” is based in structure, logic, and specific, intentional, design.

It’s the logical, premeditated, directional, masculine side of you story.

By contrast, “juice” is improvisational, free-associated, intuitive, and feminine.

Why is “rock” necessary?

It gives your story form and shape. It’s the catch-all term we’ll be using for the infrastructure that a story is built around. The skeleton beneath all stories.

If story is all about communication, then “rock” allows the writer and the audience to be speaking the same symbolic language.

How so?

This common language is story structure itself. The form and shape of the development of the story.

By utilizing well designed story structure, your story resonates with the natural patterns the audience feels should be there. They feel your story develops “naturally” and feels “organic.”

That’s what “rock” is…

The pattern that is instantly recognized by the human psyche as the natural form a story should take.

This goes well beyond just “beginning, “middle,” and “end.”

For each of the different types of stories:

  • Long form
  • Short form
  • Mini form

There is a corresponding structure to understand in depth, in order to tell these stories well:

Let’s look first at short form stories, where the “cubby” method is the way to go.

What is Story?

What is Story?

Story is life.

A microcosm of our reality, communicating our experiences within that reality, to others.

Fundamentally, our psychology is built to understand the world via story. Specifically. Because of this basic truth, stories are how we teach and how we learn.

Story is how we make sense of the world around us.

We use stories to connect, to challenge, to stimulate, and entertain. The best stories do all of these things simultaneously, and more.

To study story is to study life itself. Psychology, philosophy, morality, human behavior – everything.

This will be the center of our study here in this series. The study… of everything.

Fundamentally, a story has two main elements:

“Juice” and “Rock.”

What are those?


It’s the creative ingenuity of a story.

The fluid inspiration, energy, and intuition that permeates your story. It’s the life blood.
We’ll get into the “juice” side of things much later. For now, we’ll be diving into…


It’s the inherent structure that a story is built around.

A building needs load bearing walls, a body needs a skeleton, and a story needs its ROCK elements. The pieces that make all the other work possible.

  • Inspiration and Skill.
  • Art and Structure.
  • “Juice” and “Rock.”

Let’s first take a look at crushin’ that “rock.”

Broadly speaking, there are three “types” of stories to concern ourselves with.

There are three general “forms” your story can take:

Long form

“Long form” storytelling is when a story is told over multiple volumes. Such as a television series, a book series, or a film series.

There are many CHUNKS of story, that all aggregate into an overall whole.

Long form storytelling follows a “seven season” structure.

Now the term “season” is borrowed here from television, but the idea relates to any kind of serialized storytelling:

Seasons of a TV show, books in a novel series, movies in a film franchise.

Any story that is intended to be broken into separate volumes, or what we’ll call “seasons,” is considered “long form” and will follow the seven season structure.

We’ll get into the details of the seven season structure as we move forward.
To jump straight to the seven seasons now, click here.

Short form

A “short form” story is a story told as a single piece. A novel, a film, a book, a play.

It’s a stand-alone story, that is not meant to be continued. It can be continued in a sequel. But it’s originally constructed as a single piece unto itself, with a definitive ending.

“Short form” storytelling follows a structure we’ll call “cubbies.”

The “cubbies” refer to the fifteen different elements that make up a well constructed short form story. All the pieces you NEED to have.

We’ll be covering the cubbies in detail very soon, but to jump straight to it all now – click here.

Mini form

“Mini form” storytelling is when a story is told as a single mini section, or slice, of a larger story. Such as a single episode of a TV series, or a chapter in a book, or a single scene in a movie.

Mini form storytelling uses an “episodic three phase” structure.

“Episodic three phase” refers to the three basic phases that an episode progresses through.
Here again we borrow the term “episode” from television. But the term simply refers to any small slice of an overall story.

We’ll get into the deets a little later, but to jump straight to “episodic three phase,” click here.


To understand the rock of long form stories, you’ve got to understand the “seven seasons.”

To understand the rock of short form stories, you’ve got to understand the “cubbies.”

To understand the rock of mini form stories, you’ve got to understand the “episodic three phase.”

These structures, and all of their elements, will be our main focus for the foreseeable future.

Settle in, there’s a lot to cover.

Welcome to Story Shamans

Welcome welcome welcome — to Story Shamans!

Professor Bones, and Dr. Bones, at your service.

Our aim is to assist you on your path to true mastery of storytelling.

We’ll be tackling everything. The what, the why, the how.


  • What is it exactly?
  • Why does it matter?
  • How do you do it?

From there, we’ll be delving in deep.

Covering juice, rock, the cubbies, the seven seasons, episodic three phase, and everything that spirals out of these ideas.

“What are these? What are you talkin’ about??”

Calm down Animals! We’re gettin’ there.

All the details are on their way — like a smoldering shooting star, headed straight for your cerebellum.

Get ready!


First. You must shed your skin. Here in the realm of story, you are neither man nor woman…

You are an Animal.

Which beast speaks to your nature, out there in the ether? Give it voice. Give it a name. For this animal shall guide you through your journey with us here.

Choose wisely. And take your seat around the campfire.

Let’s get started…