What is the Story Outcome?

Do your character’s efforts to achieve the overall story goal result in Success (such as killing the shark in Jaws) or Failure (such as not being able to open the dinosaur theme park in Jurassic Park)?

Although it can be tempered by degree, Success or Failure is easily determined by seeing if the characters (in general) have achieved what they set out to achieve at the beginning of the story.

Certainly, the characters may learn they really don’t want what they thought they did and choose not to pursue it any longer. Even though they have grown, this is considered a failure because they did not accomplish their original intention. Similarly, they may actually achieve what they wanted, and even though they find it unfulfilling or unsatisfying, it must be said they succeeded. The point here is not to pass a value judgment on the worth of their success or failure. It is simply to determine whether or not they achieved their original objective.


  • Star Wars—the Death Star is destroyed
  • The Silence of the Lambs—the killer is identified and killed
  • The Verdict—the defendant wins the case and gets a lot of money
  • Unforgiven—the bad guys are killed and the reward is claimed


  • Rain Man—the inheritance is not shared
  • Basic Instinct—the killer (Catherine Tramell) successfully frames Dr. Garner and gets away with murder
  • The Glass Meangerie—the family falls apart (and no husband is found for Laura)
  • Hamlet—everybody is killed and the royal family is destroyed

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