Does the Story in the Bible Have a Beginning Hook, Middle Build, and Ending Payoff?

We discovered a very basic story design from Shawn Coyne, which has provided a way of seeing how the Bible is a long-form story…

To keep it simple, you’ll need a beginning, middle, and an end to your Story. No matter how many acts you have (three to five to seven), you need a beginning to your Story, a middle section to your Story and an ending to your Story. As an editor, I don’t worry so much about figuring out exactly how many acts are in a book. For me, the Beginning, Middle and End are all that matter.

Shawn Coyne, The Story Grid

Now let me tell you how an insight from Shawn Coyne has helped our team come to see how the Bible is a long-form story.

It is the concept of the Beginning Hook, Middle Build, Ending Payoff.

Here is how Coyne explains this structure…

Boiling your pile of 400 pages down to BEGINNING, MIDDLE and END and setting aside all of the other pieces in your Story is the single best advice I could give anyone. Remember, Stories are conceptually simple things

A storyteller hooks us …. And then we get a middle build that raises the stakes …. Lastly, we get an ending payoff that is both surprising and inevitable ….

It’s very useful to remember that the BEGINNING is all about HOOKING your reader…getting them so deeply curious and involved in the Story that there is no way they’ll abandon it until they know how it turns out. The Middle is about BUILDING progressive complications that bring the stress and pressure down so hard on your lead character/s that they are forced to take huge risks so that they can return to “normal.” The ENDING is the big PAYOFF, when the promises you’ve made from your HOOK get satisfied in completely unique and unexpected ways.

STORY distilled is…HOOK, BUILD, PAYOFF. That’s it.

Hook, Build, Payoff, by Shawn Coyne

So we’d like to show you our initial take on what the Beginning Hook, Middle Build, and Ending Payoff in the story in the Bible may be.

Of course, we recognize you’ll know the Hook, Build, Payoff structure of the story in your Bible better than we will. So, we’d love your feedback.

Beginning Hook

Movement One

From the Balance in the Creation to the Inciting Incident, the Fall of Man in the Garden

Movement Two

From the Expulsion from the Garden to the Flood

Movement Three

From the Flood to the Dispersion of the Nations at the Tower of Babel

Middle Build

Paula showed us this as a possible pointer to where the middle build could begin…

The most obvious beginning point for restoration is God’s covenant with Abraham. God narrows the focus from all humanity to one man and his family. God will bless Abraham so that in time he may offer hope and restoration to all the families of the world.

The Story of Israel: A Biblical Theology, by C. Marvin Pate and J. Scott Duvall

So, we are using this verse, from the genealogy of Jesus in the gospel of Matthew, as the structure for the middle build…

So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.

Matthew 1:17

So, what if there are three movements in the middle build…

Movement One

From Abraham to David

Movement Two

From David to the Deportation to Babylon

Movement Three

From the Deportation to Babylon to the Christ

And, here’s the…

Ending Payoff

Movement One

The King Suddenly Comes

Movement Two

The Gospel Spreads to the Ends of the Earth

Movement Three

The Return of the King

Three movements each. But like we said, we know our team could be missing something there.

Let us know how you think.