Story Architecture (StoryCalc) Calculator

Storycalc produces common story architectures for your unique story, given basic information about your main character, their struggles, and the goal they are trying to accomplish. Before we calculate your story, it may be helpful to address the elephant in the room: "What is story architecture?" The following sections cover the basics.

Story Architecture

Story architecture, also known as the story arc or plot arc, is a combination of story elements (protagonist, antagonist, inciting incident, etc.) presented in consistent places and times within a narrative. Story architectures typically follow a 3-Act structure, although some expand that to 4 or 5 Acts. However, all story architectures generally follow the same formula:

  1. Introduce a main character that wants something
  2. Present obstacles to the main character obtaining that thing
  3. Main character either fails or fulfills their want

Every story has a beginning (one), a middle (two), and an end (three). Different Act structures can be used to expand the middle, or to determine which aspects of the story are presented to the audience.

Common Architectures

Every storytelling medium has standard architectures used by practiced storytellers. For thousands of years, oral stories followed folktale, fable, and epic architectures. But with the developments of novels, live action film, and animation, three storytelling architectures have come to dominate the storytelling landscape. These are the Pixar Formula for animation, the Hero’s Journey for literature, and Save The Cat! (also known as the Hollywood Formula) for live action film.

The Pixar Formula

Pixar creates stories with real characters, transcendent emotional experiences, and heartfelt moments. These animated stories are made for kids, but warm the hearts of adults as well. Storycalc uses the basic 6-step Pixar story formula1.

The Hero's Journey

The Hero's Journey can be found everywhere from epic stories like Lord of The Rings and Star Wars to mundane stories about a common roadtrip. This ancient architecture is used in multiple mediums and has stood the test of time. Storycalc uses Christopher Vogler's 12-step simplification of the hero's journey2.

Save The Cat!

Save The Cat!, also known as The Hollywood Formula, was created to maximize emotional impact. This live-action film architecture sees theme, plot, and character converge in one powerful, cathartic moment. Storycalc uses Blake Snyder’s Save The Cat! beat sheet3.

Your Stories

Fill out the "Story Elements" Form and then click below to see your story elements in each of the major story architectures.

View Your Pixar Story

View Your Hero's Journey Story

View Your Save The Cat! Story