Freytag's Pyramid

The key to write my first great book⁠—⁠one I can be proud of—will be to seamlessly merge literary storytelling and self-help non-fiction into one cohesive whole.

All I remember about storytelling from my literature courses in middle and high school is the five-act structure, also known as Freytag's Pyramid.

It's the most widely known structure in Western literature, and probably the simplest to apply to content marketing and other non-fiction work.

From what I gathered, the structure applied to a self-help book could be as follows:

  1. Exposition + Inciting Incident: The author describes the initial situation: world, characters, events. What's the problem, what's the goal, why is it important?
  2. Rising Action: The problem gets denser, more obstacles appear: what are the solutions?
  3. Climax: The point of greatest tension and the highest-stakes attempt. Involves high risk.
  4. Falling Action + Resolution: Explains how to solve the problem by proposing a panacea. The author solves the problem.
  5. Denouement: Conclusion, galvanizing statements urging to take action.

Of course, a strictly linear structure would be boring, so I could spice things up a little bit by inserting flashbacks, flashforwards, and illustrations.

Once again, Thoreau's Walden comes to mind. Coelho's The Alchemist is also a great example of a self-help book using fiction to inspire readers.