The Robleto structure, based on traditional Nicaraguan storytelling, was conceptualized by Cheryl Diermyer during a 2010 trip from the southern tip of San Juan Del Sur to the northern parts of Santa Lucia. Diermyer noticed a shared narrative structure when Nicaraguan community members told stories about their lives and culture. The structure is named after Robert Robleto, a cattle farmer and doctor of medicine in Nicaragua. (See the Examples section to view one of Dr. Robleto’s stories.)

The Robleto structure consists of five stages: Line of Repetition, Introduction, Climax, Journey (ies), and Close. The Line of Repetition distinguishes this structure from other narrative arcs. The narrative starts with a defining statement that is repeated throughout the narrative, often marking the end of one stage and the beginning of the next. After a short introduction by the narrator, the narrative quickly moves into the climax, which describes the character’s challenge. The journey stage begins by introducing other people, places, and events. Unlike other story structures, the Robleto structure may tell of several short journeys in one story. At the end of each short journey, the narrator repeats the defining statement. The defining statement is sometimes repeated at the end, after the close, as well.

Visual representation of Robleto


Line of Repetition
The story opens with a statement that is repeated throughout the story. This trademark characteristic is usually short, powerful or poignant, and simply structured grammatically. The repeated phrase or sentence grounds the story and emphasizes the...

The video below, I Am a Farmer Who Became a Doctor, was created to demonstrate the Robleto story-type, using Dr. Robleto's own story. The story centers around the repetition of the central idea. Watch the video and consider how it fits the story pattern below...

Learning Applications

When to apply this structure:
The Robleto structure should be considered for stories where either dramatic or comedic emphasis is a desirable outcome. This structure is particularly helpful when preparing a persuasive, inspiring, or encouraging story. The Line of Repetition, the...