As part of my research for these articles, I’ve been reviewing published guidelines for adventure design.
In the last couple days I have reviewed DMG 3.5, DMG II, Green Ronin’s Advanced Gamemaster’s Guide, and the Pathfinder GameMastery Guide. They have all had much the same advice for developing adventures: devise a plot, design the encounters, then run the players through it until they reach the expected end. If you want, put in some plot twists to surprise them, and allow some alternate branches and routes along the way.
This is really close to ‘write the story the players will experience’.
I suppose it shouldn’t be that big a surprise that many published adventures follow such a format.