The other day, I came across a concept known as ABCBA, or chiastic, storylines. This is what I read:
It’s long, I know. The main gist of what it was talking about was this:
A good story brings back elements introduced in the beginning. It resolves things stated in the beginning. It uses nostalgia.
And I was thinking, wow, a perfect example of a chiastic storyline would be the Bible.
In the beginning, you have a man, a woman, and a garden.
In the middle, where Jesus rises from the dead, you have a man, a woman (Mary Magdelene) and a garden.
In the end, you have the Church, the Lamb, and the Tree (of Life).
It’s simple. Just like that. In the three main points of the story, we see those three elements being repeated. Two people and a place.
Can you use this in your story? Create three important themes and bring them back in important moments? Make things in the beginning relevant in the end?
The Bible is a great place to find inspiration for story structure, because it’s the Greatest Story!
For other inspiration (and you can use the Bible for this, too) search through all your favorite movies and books and see how much a problem or theme in the beginning is brought back and resolved at the end. For example:
In the Grinch that Stole Christmas, the issue of his heart being “two sizes too small” was brought back in the end, where it grew “three sizes that day!” The other thing was how in the beginning, the singing irritated him, but in the end, the singing was the one thing he couldn’t take away.
Finding recurring themes like these in great stories and even the Bible itself is a great way to observe writing techniques for creating a fulfilling and well-composed story.