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Guest post! STORY INGREDIENTS, Part 1, by Caroline Pignat


Please help me welcome the Governor General’s Award winning author, Caroline Pignat. Caroline’s novel THE GOSPEL TRUTH has also been nominated for another GG—we’re so lucky to have her here to talk to us about what makes a great story. Be sure to come back next week for part 2!


Every great movie, novel, play and short story follows a basic recipe. Though they all differ, each one has the same main ingredients:

Somebody (character) wants (desire) because (motive) but (obstacle) so (plot points #1, 2, 3....) 

Great stories have unique characters with a strong desire and solid motive -- that’s a great start. Once you put obstacles in their way, the story gets even more interesting. 

Think about some of our favourite stories:

Katniss wants to win the Hunger Games because she’ll die if she doesn’t but that means killing her friend, Peeta so they work together to change the games.

Frodo wants to destroy the ring because it’s evil and will destroy Middle Earth but the evil ring is turning even friends against him, so he tries to carry it alone.

Harry wants to belong and be loved because he is an orphan, but he is also a wizard, so he tries to hide his magic skills to fit in with the only family he’s got, the Dursley’s.

Try applying this recipe to your story. Does it work? If you can sum it up according this recipe, you’ve got all the necessary ingredients.

Somebody (character) wants (desire) because (motive) but (obstacle) so (plot points #1, 2, 3....)

Photo of Caroline Pignat

Caroline Pignat is the Governor General’s Award winning author of highly acclaimed young adult novels. Her historical fiction, contemporary, and free verse novels use multiple points of view and varied forms to engage readers of all ages. Find out more about Caroline at

Image: The Gospel Truth

The Gospel Truth

By Pignat, Caroline
Image: Unspeakable


By Pignat, Caroline
Image: Timber Wolf

Timber Wolf

By Pignat, Caroline
Image: Wild Geese

Wild Geese

By Pignat, Caroline
Image: Egghead


A Novel
By Pignat, Caroline
Image: Greener Grass

Greener Grass

By Pignat, Caroline