How to Use Somebody Wanted But So Then in Your Writing

Authors can use the “Somebody Wanted But So Then” framework to create captivating narratives. The phrase, “Somebody Wanted But So Then” contains the structure and can teach writers how to write narratives that draw readers in.

This strategy, presented by writer Kurt Vonnegut, provides an easy-to-follow approach to writing stories that are both effective and appealing. We’ll examine the potential of “Somebody Wanted But So Then” (SWBST), and how to use it and some best practices for making convincing stories.

What is Somebody Wanted But So Then?

Someone: The main character.

Wanted: What the character wants or their goal.

But: This acts as the “hiccup” in the story. An event occurs which prevents the character from getting what they want.

So: In this section, we find out how the character reacts to the hurdles they’re facing.

Then: Reveal the results or repercussions of the character’s choices. This section of the framework wraps up the story arc and prepares the audience for any possible follow-ups or new developments.

Somebody Wanted But So Then Graphic Organizer

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Somebody Wanted But So Then Graphic Organizer

Somebody Wanted But So Then Examples

The Great Gatsby

Someone: Jay Gatsby
Wanted: His long-lost love, Daisy
But: While in the car together, Daisy hits a woman (Myrtle)
So: George, Myrtle’s husband, thought it was Gatsby who was driving and killed Myrtle.
Then: George kills Gatsby

Our Editor’s Take

“There are a few SWBST scenarios we could create forThe Great Gatsby. Oftentimes, novels have more than one potential SWBST due to different character arcs. Imagine if, in this example, the Someone was Daisy – this would look a little different.” – R. R. Noall

The Lion King

Someone: Simba
Wanted: To grow up with this whole pride, dad (Mufasa), and mom (Nala)
But: While spending the day together, Mufasa is killed in an accident.
So: Simba runs away, worried everyone will blame him for his dad’s death.
Then: Scar, Simba’s uncle, tries to take over the pride, and Simba returns to save everyone.

How to Use the “Somebody Wanted But So Then” Technique in Your Writing

  1. Determine Your Someone: Introduce a strong character at the outset who has clear motivations, unique qualities, and a sympathetic past. This individual is going to be the central figure in your story.
  2. Make the Wanted Clear: Clearly state the goals and aspirations of your character. This objective should be measurable and striking to pique the audience’s curiosity and empathy.
  3. Introduce the But: Bring conflict or challenges that will make your character’s path more difficult your story. This could be internal conflicts, outside enemies, or unanticipated events that make their goal more challenging to accomplish. This component is related to rising action.
  4. Navigate the So: Describe your character’s reaction to the issues raised in the “But” section. As they negotiate the narrative’s turns and turns, highlight their resiliency, inventiveness, and development.
  5. End with the Then: To bring your story to a satisfying finish, show how your character’s choices have consequences. For example, this could mean reaching the intended objective, dealing with unexpected events, or laying the groundwork for upcoming adventures.

Somebody Wanted But So Then FAQS

What is an example of someone wanted but so then technique?

Jay Gatsby wanted to be with his lost love, Daisy. But when they reunited, Daisy hits a woman while driving Gatsby’s car, so the woman’s husband, George, thinks it was Gatsby who killed his wife. Then, George kills Gatsby.

What is the summarizing strategy somebody wanted but so then?

The somebody wanted but so then (or SWBST) strategy can be used during our after reading to summarize the key points of a story. Writer can use SWBST to help them outline key plot points at a high level before writing.


“Somebody Wanted But So Then” is a flexible and valuable tool for storytellers; it provides a system for creating stories that connect with listeners deeply. Using SWSBT framework to enrich your stories with relatable characters, intriguing ambitions, and dynamic conflicts, you may create a narrative tapestry that captivates the audience. Accept the power of SWBST, unleash your imagination, and see how your stories take on depth, significance, and emotional resonance.

If you’ve been working on a short story and using this framework, share your work with us! Check our calls for submission.

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