Looking for thoughts & opinions on my storyform settings


Been working on a story for months, turning it over and over, approaching it from different perspectives and after countless versions, settled on something I think is as simple and contained as I can make it. Before I rework the characters and plot, I’d like to make sure I’m running on the right storyform.

Could somebody give me a critique of my choices, or offer any insight / ideas? Many thanks!


A sheriff, married to a man with a violent past, finds a detective in her office who’s spending his retirement years searching for a serial killer. The detective doesn’t know the identity of the man he’s searching for, but the sheriff does and tries her best to throw him off of her husband’s trail. When she realizes it’s no use, she must chose between helping her husband kill the detective, or turn herself and her husband in. In the end, she orders her husband to stop, but when he turns on her, kills him in self-defence.


MC: The Sheriff
IC: The Detective


  1. MC RESOLVE: Change: The Sheriff stops protecting her husband.
  2. MC GROWTH: Stop: The Sheriff stops the charade.
  3. MC APPROACH: Be-er: The Sheriff pretends like everything’s fine in her life, hooks the Detective up with her older sister (plays the matchmaker) and tries to distract him from his never ending investigation.
  4. MC PROBLEM-SOLVING STYLE: Holistic: The Sheriff focuses on distracting the Detective in the hopes he’ll drop the case.


  1. DRIVER: Action: The story begins with the arrival of the detective and ends with the death of her husband.
  2. LIMIT: Optionlock: The Sheriff runs out of ways to throw the Detective off of her husband’s track and is forced to make a decision, kill the detective, or end the charade.
  3. OUTCOME: Failure: The Sheriff fails to throw the Detective off of her husband’s trail
  4. JUDGMENT: Bad: The Sheriff ends up exposed and vulnerable and will probably end up in jail.


  1. OS DOMAIN: Manipulation: The Sheriff and her Husband ponder over how far are they willing to go to protect their freedom while the Detective questions for how much longer can he continue with his search and when he meets the Sheriff’s sister, even contemplates what it would be like to settle down
  2. CONCERN: Developing a Plan: Everyone is concerned with what are they going to do with their lives, how far are they willing to go, etc.
  3. ISSUE: Circumstances vs. Situation While struggling with their sense of purpose & belonging (being in a relationship / not being in a relationship, protecting loved ones, finding someone to love), the characters are faced with how things really stand in the world (a bloody trail of murder victims, countless laws broken in a number of countries, etc.).
  4. PROBLEM: Inequity Laws were broken, lives were taken, justice has not been served and people are being deceived.

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Cool story. Couple things right off the bat –

  • Your Resolve and Growth describe the Sheriff as Protagonist, not the Main Character’s personal issues. Open the story up and give her some issues unique to her that have nothing to do with her husband and nothing with her role as Sheriff.
  • “Distracting” doesn’t really sound like a holistic problem-solving technique. If anything, her attempts to throw the detective off the track sound more linear (if I can throw him off, then my husband will be safe). I would set this Linear, unless you’re absolutely sure of concrete points in the story where she is, in fact, holistic.
  • Your Overall Story Solution is Equity (justice), yet you have a Story Outcome of Failure. The wrongs were righted with the death of the husband - justice was served. The story you pitched sounds more like Success/Bad with the Detective as Protagonist and the MC as Antagonist.

This works better too with your Goal and Consequence. The Protagonist is for the Goal, the Antagonist is for the Consequence. She wants there to be misunderstandings. The detective on the other hand, is trying to manipulate the situation so that the killer will reveal himself (scheming). If the wife kills her husband it is only because the detective was successful in manipulating the husband to come out into the open and reveal himself.

That’s all I have for now. Great start!



Thank you! Yes, the Detective as the protagonist with the Sheriff as an MC antagonist makes perfect sense.

Does this make the Husband the IC, or the Detective?

It could go either way. I would make the Husband the IC. One, it opens up the story (keeps it away from Protagonist/Main Character vs. Antagonist/Influence Character) AND it would put him in Situation – he IS the killer and that could have a considerable impact on the Sheriff, personally and inter-personally.

The Husband’s Concern as Influence Character is the Past (he’s done things that can’t be undone) and this could challenge the Main Character who perhaps is a compulsive liar (Issue of Falsehood). This is blending a bit into the Overall Story – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing – but you could extend the Main Character’s personal issues into something more about just her.

Maybe she’s someone who needs constant attention and positive reinforcement (bad childhood growing up), so she makes up all kinds of lies to keep people interested in her or think that she’s important. And her husband can’t get over what he has done, maybe the bodies keep coming back to haunt him, and he can’t escape his past – and this is the kind of thing that challenges the Main Character to deal with her compulsive lying (you can’t run away from who you really are, or what you have really done) and then she changes and takes him out–either to clear the voices out of her head, or because it makes one of her lies true, or so on and on … so many different ways you can go with it!


Or the bedtime stories the Sheriff / Mother tells her Daughter about how she met her Husband; how much of a knight in shining armor he was and swept her off her feet and “some day you too will meet your sweet prince.”

So all the “false memories” she makes up to keep herself going, all the “evidence” (unique ability) she’s accumulated over the years to back up her story come crashing down when her Husband turns the knife on her.

I’m also thinking both the Husband and Detective could play the IC. The 1st & 4th Acts could be the Husband and the 2nd & 3rd Acts could be the Detective. The idea would be the Husband goes away on a make believe business trip to get out of town while the Detective is there.


Act 1: Perfect Husband goes away while bad evil Detective is in town.
Act 2 & 3: Bad Detective reveals all the crap Perfect Husband did (then pretends to leave).
Act 4: No Longer Perfect Husband returns, Detective shows up, climax leading to wife killing husband.

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This sounds good - but does the wife no prior to story that the husband was a bad guy?

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This is my understanding so far:

(names, just to make things simpler)

Wayne: the Husband (real name Todd)
Veronica: the Sheriff
Durward: the Detective

Todd, who was already running from the law and using an alias, encountered a recluse named Wayne and killed him. After destroying any possible means of identifying / finding the body, Todd (now known as Wayne) slowly traveled across the country, looking for a place to settle down while changing his appearance, growing a beard, getting his hair cut short. Finally, he found himself working on a farm belonging to Veronica’s father.

Veronica was still young and impressionable at the time (late teens?) when she met Wayne. Wayne, who felt a strong desire for a place to call home, fell in love with Veronica. When she turned eighteen, they married, despite her parents’ objection.

Wayne, who had a knack for working on a farm and always had good head on his shoulders, helped the business thrive. Through his hard work and dedication to Veronica, won over his father and mother in law.

At one point, Veronica might’ve asked Wayne why didn’t he cut his beard. When he told her he couldn’t and asked Veronica to keep a secret, Wayne explained he’s a wanted man. I’m not sure what story he tells her, but it’s probably a mix of truth and lies. Anyways, Veronica buys it.

I haven’t figured out how I’m going to reconcile Veronica becoming a sheriff when she’s married to a criminal. I think a lot of that will depend on how good Wayne is at hiding his identity and covering his tracks.

Maybe nobody knows exactly what Wayne’s done. Maybe only Durward’s been able to piece together more than the others, but it’s still an incomplete picture (inhibitor: interpretation). Maybe Wayne’s kept a collection of souvenirs from his victims and Veronica is able to piece together the clues her husband’s left behind with the stories Durward tells her. Again, I’m just starting to flesh out the characters, so it’s still very preliminary at this stage.


Hm… looking at the storyform, I think the IC symptom: self-aware indicates that no matter what he does, he can’t change his face, is forever a hunted man, and the IC response: aware means he’s always on the look out for possible threats and avoids having his picture taken, start a Facebook page, etc.

The reason i ask is if she does know that he used to be a serial killer, then it would make more sense that she would be dealing with Issues of Falsehood – particularly in relation to her daughter. If she doesn’t know, then she really isn’t having to lie about things …


Yeah, it makes sense that she knows everything. So she suppresses the truth by creating false memories in her children, and herself, to protect everyone from what her husband really is.

That means that Durward coming in to tear down the curtains of (self) deception and exposing the truth is the MC critical flaw: interdiction. Correct?

I guess the telling of the story would be one where the audience slowly discovers what the main character is hiding. That seems to go contrary to the 1st person singular point of view, unless we’re seeing it as having one’s memories re-awakened, or being forced to confront something we don’t want to look at.

Am I looking at this right?


Thanks for the write up in your blog! :blush:
Had to respond in kind.

I think for reasons of drama, she must know that her husband was a bad guy. Yes, you could have it that she doesn’t. The thing to watch out for there is why you’ve made this decision.

Deciding that doesn’t know allows you to have a simple character. Though, then you have to figure out why she sticks around once she finds out the truth.

Deciding that she does know but has stuck around – this means you have a mountain of work on your plate. That character is complex, hard to sympathize with, illogical… all the sorts of things that make writing hard, full of false starts, inconsistent at first, and you’ll probably end up bald or grey. But this character is worth spending our time with.



Yeah, I completely agree with you; I was taking the slacker route. She knows what her husband is and makes a lot of crazy / frightening decisions to keep the detective at bay. Much more interesting.

On a side note: my approach with this project is to get a rough idea of WHAT the characters do (storyform & outline), then work my way backwards and figure out WHY they do the things they do, in other words, get a better understanding of WHO they are as people by taking advantage of the lessons you taught in the character class. Hope this approach bares fruit.

As for the grey and bald part, I think I’m already there. :wink:

All the best!