5 Commandments – Mac

The soul of the Scene – the 5 Commandments of Storytelling. Scrivener makes it easy for you to track them as you write the scenes, or when you return to do your self-editing.

Warning: These tips are meant to be used with Scrivener Mac version 3.0 of higher.

The 5 Commandments of Storytelling

What are the 5 Commandments of Storytelling? Shawn Coyne describes them in his book The Story Grid as “the timeless principles that we rely upon to create and evaluate the building blocks of a long form story – scenes”.

Here he describes them in full:

The 5 Commandments and Scrivener

In continuing with the creation of the Story Grid spreadsheet, in this post we will discuss a method of tracking the 5 commandments of each scene.

Starting back in the inspector, click the notes icon in the inspector (the first icon on the left).  In the synopsis section, type the following sections:

  • Literal action
  • Essential Action
  • Inciting Incident
  • Progressive Complication
  • Crisis
  • Climax
  • Resolution

It should look like this:

5 Commandments of Story Grid in Scrivener Synopsis

Once you have filled out the information for each of your scenes, you van select the manuscript in the BINDER and go to CORKBOARD view, and then you can see how the chapters work together, which will look something like this:

Scene Corkboard View – 5 Commandments

Narrative Drive and Progressive Complications

I find this useful in tracking power of 10 progressive complications as well, ensuring you are raising the stakes for your protagonist.

For more information on raising the stakes of your story and the power of 10, see these posts:

If you open the inspector again while in the corkboard (make sure you have the manuscript selected in the binder), I added narrative drive and progressive complications in the notes section of the inspector.

Narrative Drive and Progressive Complications – Corkboard View

You can see the progressive complications of each scene, type them into the notes section and make sure you continuously raising the stakes for your story.

I also sum up the progressive complications in each individual scene like this (make sure a scene is selected in the binder and showing in the editor):

Scene Progressive Complications


Once you’ve finished the 5 Commandments for all your scenes, and filled in the metadata, you should be ready to make the Story Grid spreadsheet. In the next post I will show you how to export all of this data to an excel spreadsheet.

If anything wasn’t clear or if you want more detail, please comment below.

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