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Looking at my blog, I noticed that I have not written about writing is a very long time. So I thought I'd share a little nugget of knowledge that I hope will help my fellow writers. Even if you're not a writer - it's still cool to know that almost all successful stories (movies, books, etc) follow this 7-Point Story Structure.
This blueprint for creating a fantastic story that will engage the reader (or viewer) is from Dan Wells, science fiction author of the Partials series and other books. Like many speculative fiction greats, this guy was born in Utah (seriously, what's up with that?).
The 7-Point Story Structure
1. Hook: This is where your main character is billions and billions of light years away from where she will end up eventually. Great examples I can think of are Luke Skywalker toiling on his uncle and aunt's moisture farm, or maybe Harry Potter stuck in an abusive family that hates him and he's stuck living under the staircase. Neo is just a hacker. Batman is just Bruce Wayne, a kid with a billionaire father. Superman is just an orphan baby shot through space.
2) Plot Turn 1: Something happens that pushes this main character forward. It's a call to action.
3) Pinch 1: An element of danger presents itself here. Pressure is turned up.
|I have decided to become, Superman!|
5) Plot Turn 2: Failure and despair despite your main character's resolve. But, there's something to learn from that failure, and now our main character has whatever tools he needs to succeed.
6) Pinch 2: Oh crap! Shit hits the fan and there's little hope now. Main character might think of giving up, but finds the inner strength to keep on going. You can dooooooiiiiiiiit!
7) Resolution: Maybe a huge final battle happens. Or whatever profound plot climax propels your main character to be at the complete opposite of where she was in the Hook. Luke destroys the Death Star.
What about complex stories?
I LOVE multiple story lines. It's probably why I write in 3rd person limited episodic. I enjoy telling the story from different perspectives, and keeping it 3rd person allows me to give the reader intimate insight as if it's written in first person. So EACH can be stacked on top of the 7 point structure.
Often, the resolution of a subplot comes at the pinch point of another subplot. So there's always rising action, climax, and falling action all within the larger 7 point structure you've built. You are guaranteed to put your reader through the ringer and on an awesome ride.
Also, your hero should try and FAIL AT LEAST TWICE. Otherwise, the reader loses interest when the goal is achieved too easily. I love the analogy of making your main character climb a tree and throw rocks at him. Suffering is how we grow....and how we can relate to the hero. So make your hero suffer like a sonofabitch.
What's really fun is watching a good movie and identifying one of the points. I did that while watching The Matrix a couple of weeks ago. When Neo gets filled with bullets and those nasty Sentinels breach the hull of the Nebuchadnezzar, I said to myself, "Oh, that's Pinch Point #2!"
Sometimes, being a writer kinda ruins things...