10 questions every writer should ask their story

10 questions every writer should ask their story

john yorke, into the woods, tv producer, story for bvusiness, screenwriting, story for tv, creative skillset, university of the arts london, ma drmatic writing,c ompany pictures, BBC


Start: 14 September 2020
Duration: 16 weeks
Sessions: 7
Price: £900


You've written your story, now how can you test whether or not it's as good as it can be? John Yorke recommends asking 10 questions to check you've got your story straight: an approach as relevant to business stories as it is to dramatic narratives.

John discussed the ten questions every writer should ask to test their story during a recent online workshop. In this clip, he applies the questions to two popular films: Aliens and Pixar’s Inside Out – though it can easily be applied to factual content, video games, and business communications. See full video below. 


Who’s story is this?

Aliens – Ripley’s

Inside Out – Joy’s


What do they need? (Flaw)

Aliens – Failure as a mother

Inside Out – To understand life can’t be constantly happy


What is the inciting incident?

Aliens – The news that colonists are being killed, and the opportunity of revenge

Inside Out – Being cast out of HQ with Sadness


What does the protagonist want?

Aliens – To kill the Aliens (to atone for dead daughter)

Inside Out – To get back to HQ


What obstacles are in the way?

Aliens – Aliens, the military, the company, her own inner fears

Inside Out – She doesn’t know the way, or understand she needs to listen to Sadness too


What’s at stake?

Aliens – Her life and civilisation

Inside Out – Her existence – Riley’s happiness


Why should we care?

Aliens – She’s selfless (and loves her cat)

Inside Out – She’s funny and smart – has the best interests of Riley at heart


What do they learn?

Aliens – The strength and resilience within – she can be a good mother

Inside Out – To embrace Sadness and accept life is infinitely better if you do


How and why do they learn this?

Aliens – She rescues Newt from the jaws of the Alien

Inside Out – Can’t bridge the chasm without the help of Sadness


How does the story end?

Aliens – She destroys the Aliens

Inside Out – Home, with Sadness at the controls

John Yorke headshot image


John Yorke is the UK’s foremost expert on story structure.

His long and distinguished career in TV drama has given him the tools to identify the underlying shape common to all successful narratives, and his bestselling book Into The Woods explains why stories are key to all successful communication, from ads to political speeches.

Find out more about John on his team page.


Start: 14 September 2020
Duration: 16 weeks
Sessions: 7
Price: £900


Do 2018’s favourite Christmas ads follow five-act structure?

Do 2018’s favourite Christmas ads follow five-act structure?

There have been debates about whether a Christmas advert made for just £50 is better than the John Lewis £7m Christmas advert featuring Elton John. We know that budget doesn’t matter; it’s all about how you deliver story – so we’ve broken each advert down into their five acts.

How to master five-act structure

How to master five-act structure

We work closely with all our students, and often go through topics in detail to help them better grasp them. In this one-to-one session, the John Yorke Story team work with a screenwriter as she masters some of the core elements of five-act structure: inciting incidents, moments of hope and despair, and the point of no return.

Uploaded by John Yorke Story Team


Published on February 23, 2017

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