3 min readDec 30, 2021

Continuing Series on Story Structure

Pink rose on a child’s swing

NOTE: This is part of a series on story structure. I will be collecting them all up and putting them into a book once I’m finished, as part of my Business for Breakfast series.

Last but not least, there’s the classic story plot of tragedy. I also found it appropriate to publish this article as the last of my articles for 2021.

I’m going to be using a more modern definition of tragedy. Does the main character die in the end? Or, if they live, are they significantly worse off than when the story started, perhaps better off dead? Also, is the cause of their downfall somehow irrevocably tied up with flaws in the main character themselves or decisions they make?

If you can answer yes to these questions, then what you’re writing is a tragedy. If things just happen to the main character, that really aren’t their fault, it becomes a sad story, not a tragedy.

Classical tragedies generally involved royalty or gentry. Today, tragedies are usually written about the common man, struggling to make good. In classical tragedies, the main character was usually a good person. In modern tragedies, the main character could be good, morally ambiguous, or even tainted with evil.

Tragedies have a different story structure, inverted compared to a lot of the other structures. Normally, the…




Leah Cutter sold her first short story back in 1997, and continues to write and sell both her fiction and non-fiction. She supports herself with her writing.