Story writing: planning a story

Learning focus

To learn how to plan, structure and write an exciting story.

This lesson includes:

  • one video

  • four activities


Every story needs a plot – an exciting series of events.

Lots of stories follow a simple structure, known as a story mountain. Different parts of the story mountain relate to the key parts of a well-structured story.

Watch this video to learn how stories are planned and structured.

Organise your plot and create a great structure with these story mountain tips.
  • Opening:

Introduce the hero/main character and set the scene.

The brave knight who lives on the peaceful side of a snow capped mountain.

  • Build up:

Introduce and build up the story. Perhaps there is a conflict or a mystery that needs to be solved?

The evil wizard has kidnapped the heir to the throne.

  • Problem:

Here, the story peaks. The main character faces a major problem, obstacle or dilemma.

A fire breathing dragon protecting the evil wizard’s lair.

  • Resolution:

The main character solves the problem in order to reach their goal. Make this unusual and interesting so it keeps your readers on their toes!

The knight fed the dragon the world’s most delicious sandwiches. In return the dragon destroyed the evil wizard’s clothes so that he ran away due to embarrassment!

  • Ending:

The conclusion where everything is resolved. Keep it interesting and add an unexpected twist!

The crowd were pleasantly surprised to see that the knight was in fact Lady Faithful!


You may need paper and a pen or pencil for some of these activities.

Activity 1

Check your understanding by completing this story structure quiz.

Activity 2

You are going to plan and write your own story.

First, you need to decide what type of story (genre) you want to write.
Different genres typically contain different features.

Copy out the table below and complete it using features from the list.
The first row has been completed for you.

Fairy tales or traditional talesAdventure storiesSci-fi storiesMystery storiesScary storiesMyths and legends
talking animalsan old mapaliensa magic wanda ghosttalking animals

talking animals
a magic wand
a detective
a ticking clock
an abandoned house
a bow and arrow

an old map
a poisonous apple
a space-ship
a magnifying glass
a palace
a forest

a ghost
a child with super-strength powers
a dragon
a waterfall
a witch

Top tip!

You might want to put some features in more than one column.

Activity 3

Choose one of the story types from Activity 2 and create a story mountain plan.

Draw a mountain on a sheet of paper (just like the picture below) and write notes about what will happen at the key moments in your story: the opening, build-up, problem, resolution and ending.

Use some of the features from Activity 2 to inspire you!

Top tip!

You’ll also need to consider:

  • what the title of your story will be
  • who your main characters are
  • where it is set

Activity 4

Now write your story!

Aim to make it around 500 words long (about one side of A4 paper).

Choose each word wisely and don’t forget to follow your plan!

Where next?

In this lesson you have learnt how to plan, structure and write a story.

There are other useful articles on Bitesize to help you to understand more about creative writing:

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