How I Learned to Write – March 22nd, 2017

Story Structure and Plot Points

Last time I spoke about plot points in regards to outlining your story.  Plot points are important events that happen in your story that propel it forward.  While most authors and books explain what plot points are, the best resource that I found is a website that I’ve spoken of before.  Helping Writers Become Authors by K.M. Weiland.


The First Act

Stories are told in three parts, or acts.  The first act is the build-up of the story.  You should include the hook (enticing your readers to read the rest of your book), the inciting event (the thing that makes your character act and it begins your story), and the first plot point (where the main conflict of the story presents itself).  Each event draws a reaction from your protagonists, which propels the story forward, until they reach the next problem/conflict, which they have to overcome to move forward.  The first act is the first 1/3 of your story.

Example from my first novella Her Perfect Match

The hook:  Rebecca Cole is sitting in Gabriel Kane’s office, asking for a loan to get a new side of her business up and running.  She wants to open a male escort service (for women who need dates for functions).  Rebecca and Gabriel have known each other for years, and they each harbor secret feelings for the other.

The reason this hooks the reader is two-fold.  It’s not every day a successful business woman asks for a loan to open such an unconventional business and second, during the entire scene, they flirt with each other and are aware of the other’s movements, however innocent.  You sense an underlying attraction and you want to know why they haven’t gotten together sooner.  This is what makes you keep reading.

The inciting event:  Gabriel agrees to the loan, but he has stipulations that will have them working closely together.

Working closely with a man she’s had a crush on for years had never crossed her mind, and while she’s attracted to Gabriel, she doesn’t want him to know.  She thinks it’s a sign of weakness.  Also, she knows his reputation for never staying with one woman for very long and being in his presence more often, she wonders if she will give away her attraction to him.

The first plot point:  Gabriel and Rebecca kiss and they are both taken aback by the force of their feelings for one another after it happens.

***

The Second Act

This part of your story introduces several key problems that your character has to solve in order to get what they want.  This includes the first pinch point (this is where the conflict between the couple or the antagonist in your story presents itself, ruining any chance at immediate happiness), the midpoint (this is where the truth of the situation reveals itself and the protagonist realizes it), and the second pinch point (where the protagonist understands what is at stake).

Example from my first novella Her Perfect Match

The First Pinch Point:  Just as Rebecca is thinking about pursing her attraction to Gabriel after his actions lead her to believe that he wants her as much as she wants him, he rushes out of the office before Rebecca can talk to him, leaving her bereft and believing that she should keep her feelings to herself.

The Midpoint:  There is a shift in Rebecca and Gabriel’s relationship when he takes her home for the weekend, concerned for her well-being.

The Second Pinch Point:  She blurts out her feelings (not in their entirety), but watches him uncomfortably as he thinks about her announcement.

***

The Third Act

The last part of the book where everything happens.  This part includes the third plot point (this is where the character has a setback after experiencing the possibility of a HEA), the climax (the turning point where the protagonist has to confront the problem and/or antagonist head on), and the resolution (where you experience the character’s new normal or HEA, in the case of romance).

Example from my first novella Her Perfect Match

The Third Plot Point:  Rebecca realizes her feelings, distinct and unmoving, for Gabriel.

The Climax:  While Rebecca is sure of her feelings, she is unsure of Gabriel’s.  That is until he confronts her and she admits everything.

The Resolution:  Gabriel tells Rebecca his feelings and takes their relationship one step further.


Resources

Helping Writers Become Authors – The Secrets of Story Structure

Helping Writers Become Authors – Story Structure Database – (Examples laid out of books and movie plot points)

Write Great Fiction:  Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell


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