In case you haven't seen these yet, Dan Wells, author of "I Am Not a Serial Killer," has a great Youtube series on his 7 Point Plot System. If you're planning your NaNoWriMo novel now, or if you've pantsed a novel and need to refine the structure, this series can help a lot.
Wells reminds us that this plot system is only a skeleton, and that we also need the following to flesh it out: round characters, rich environments, try/fail cycles, and subplots. Some books start with an "Ice Monster Prologue," which is discussed in Part 4 of the series.
I'll summarize Wells' points here, and then link to all five videos below. Here is his seven point plot system:
- Hook--Or story idea. Under #7, Resolution, it's mentioned that if we know our story ending ahead of time we can then work backward to determine our opening.
- Plot Turn 1--This can be described as the call to adventure, or the first doorway of no return. This plot turn introduces conflict, and changes our character's world.
- Pinch 1--A pinch is designed to apply pressure to our character. It forces the character to act, and sometimes introduces the villain.
- Mid Point--This is when our character moves from reaction to action.
- Pinch 2--Applies more pressure, and makes our character's situation seem even worse. Their plans fail, and everything goes wrong. At this point, it seems the bad guys have won.
- Plot Turn 2--This carries our story from the mid point to the end. Wells calls this a "The Power is in You!" moment, or "grasping victory from the jaws of defeat." Our character gets the last piece they need to solve their problem.
- Resolution--This is how our story will end, and everything leads to this moment. Once we know our resolution, we can then start our story in the opposite state. This defines our character arc.
It's cool how Wells applies the same structure to fantasy, romance, tragedy, and horror.
Do you recognize these plot points in your own work, or in your favorite books or movies? Does this help you define what should happen, and when? Do you have any plotting tips you'd like to share?