Writing by Formula

Writers who are new to the discipline often face organization as their first challenge. I counsel them with, “Just get your thoughts down on paper” because the inclination to write typically comes from the insistence of a story needing to be told. But, once the initial dumping of information occurs, the discipline begins in earnest. From that moment forward, you are no longer simply sharing your story, you are a writer. It is of crucial importance that you learn the discipline of writing including organizing your work. The good news is that writing can become more formulaic. This allows more brain power to be used in articulating your message.

Fred-Velma-Shaggy-Scooby-Doo-Daphine-scooby-doo-23984066-468-333The Scooby Doo Example

Any serial writing will be an example of what I am calling “writing by formula.” Whether it is the Vampire Diaries, Geronimo Stilton, or CSI, they each have a characteristic pattern of story development. This practice can apply to non-fiction, fiction, or trainings.

My favorite example of formulaic writing is Scooby Doo. Once the central characters and backstories are established, the episodes follow a standard pattern. First, the situation is introduced, typically with a bit of comedy emphasizing the characters. Second, the challenge is set for the team of mystery investigators, often involving a chase sequence. Finally, the villain is unmasked with a trademark, “…and I would have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for those meddling kids.”

Beginning Middle End

Scooby Doo illustrates what our grade school teachers presented. Every story has a beginning, middle, and end. Beyond your grade school teacher, you may have learned of the need for a strong central character dilemma in fiction, an innovative model in non-fiction, or an engaging scenario in training. Yet, these writing cores are ALWAYS structured with a beginning, middle, and end. In your writing, first determine what it is that is the central core. What will the reader learn and connect with through my writing? Next, organize the presentation of that core with an introductory beginning, a challenging middle, and a resolute ending.

Following are some examples of the “writing by formula” practice in three genres MAWMedia Group deals with daily.

Non-Fiction Example

Research/Historical Perspective

Presentation of New Model

Description of Model in Application

Fiction Example

Character Introductions

Character Dilemma

Resolution of Dilemma

Trainings Example


Practical Application (in Theory)

Transfer of Skills (in Real Scenarios)


[Michael A. Wright, PhD, LAPSW is MAWMedia Group President. An individual and institutional consultant, Wright has over 16 years and dozens of consulting contracts completed. For educators, associations, and organizations, Dr. Wright offers curriculum, online strategy, and capital development consultations. Contact Dr. Wright here!]