When crafting a story that holds up throughout its entirety, it is important to ensure that your work has structure. Without a structure that helps support your story, you would write a discombobulated mess full of plot holes. A solid plot structure will help you keep the reader’s attention by controlling the ebbs and flows of your story’s tension. No structure holds a story together or promotes dynamic storytelling better than the seven-point plot structure.
As the name implies, the seven-point plot structure consists of seven parts that help guide your storytelling for maximum intrigue. Each part of the structure is expertly placed to keep capturing your reader’s imagination. So, what are the points and how do they work?
Your hook is the first section of your story. It holds the purpose of catching your audience so you can keep them on the line for the rest of your story. A hook should be an exciting start that makes your audience want to stick with the story you are telling. It shouldn’t be over the top or unrealistic. It should act as an honest introduction to your character and their situation. You need to make your audience emotionally invested in your characters so that they go through the rest of your story with some stake in the game. The Hook should also help provide the majority of the exposition. You should introduce the people and places that help define your story.
Plot Point 1 of the Seven-point plot structure: The Inciting Incident
Now that you have the main players introduced and you’ve set the stage, it is time to get your plot moving. The inciting incident sets your character off on their journey. This incident needs to be important enough to motivate your character to change their current situation. If the stakes aren’t high enough for your character to leave their comfortable life, your audience won’t feel the danger that will soon afflict your characters. Whether they are called to action to start a quest, or they begin their first day of high school, the inciting incident should get them out of bed and on the road to adventure.
Pinch Point 1: When Trouble Starts to Brew
Now that your character is out of their comfort zone, they will be put through scenarios that apply pressure. This part of the plot is where external conflicts will start to be introduced to the character and the reader. This may be the point where the central antagonist is introduced. This is where your character learns that this road will not be easy and that they will have to go through changes to complete their goal or finish their quest.
Midpoint: The Moment of Motivation
The Midpoint takes place around halfway through the story. At this point, the character has already left their comfort area, started moving forward, and faced some minor challenges. The midpoint is all about a shift in your character’s motivation. Up until this point, your character may have been reacting instead of acting. Due to being thrown into a new set of challenges, your character must realize that to meet their goals and come out of this new challenge unscathed, they are going to have to work for it. The midpoint is where your character will start focusing on the final prize. The story is no longer happening to the character at this point. Now, she is taking her situation by the reigns as she becomes determined to see success.
Pinch Point 2: The Major Roadblock
Now that your character is charging ahead with their newfound purpose, they must be tested. At this point, your character must question themselves. This major challenge should cause doubt in the character and the reader. Our protagonist may not be victorious after all. This event should work to build tension in your reader. This event should be challenging enough for the character that their later victory is satisfying to the reader. Overcoming this roadblock should bring confidence to your character. Getting through this situation should provide the character with the tools they need to take on the final conflict.
Plot Point 2: The Peak
Your character has finally made it to their biggest challenge yet. Plot Point 2 is all about approaching the climax and bringing the story’s tension to its peak. This is the big battle or test. This is where your character proves that they are worthy and comes out on top. This should be the most dramatic scene in the entire story. It should be high stakes and emotionally charged. This should feel like a huge reward for your reader. They have spent this time getting invested in your character. They should receive a payoff that feels worth it. Make sure that your protagonist is challenged, but ultimately comes out on top. This section should act as the release for all the previously built-up tension. This is the final boss fight or the big game, this is everything your character has ever wanted. Make sure they earn it.
Resolution: Making the Circle Whole
The resolution is the aftermath of your climax. After the tension explodes, the resolution should tie all the pieces back together. Your character should return to their starting point with the new growth that they have gone through. The protagonist should return to a world as close to normal as it can be. It does not need to be the exact same world that was introduced at the beginning of the story, but it should be a world where the character is free from major conflict and has a chance to rest. All of your character arcs should be concluded by this point. All of your important characters should arrive at the resolution as transformed beings. If the original conflict was to happen again, they would be ready to deal with it immediately. The resolution should leave your reader feeling satisfied, proud, and happy for your protagonist.
Thank you for sharing what makes a book worthwhile and to keep the readers wanting to read and not put it down.
Very well written article and absolutely packed with great information.
I just love the details and level of clarity on this one. I usually get lost at the Pinch point 1. Immediately the character is out of the comfort zone, i somehow take its place myself! This article helps clarify the best approach.
Informative. Thank you. I’ve tended to keep to a high-level three-act-outline at most times. I can definitely see where this story structure might work in certain stories.
Thank you very much for sharing this with our community, excellent writing and explanations, much appreciated.