Week 7

What Are Plot Points?

Show Transcript

Nick [00:00:06]:
Okay. Let’s talk about these plot points. Now I told you that we use them. I told you that I write them in thrillers, and I I use them all the time for pacing and structure. Let me just Get into what they are. What you’ll see on the screen is this, three act structure, and we’re gonna talk about that in the next video, unpack that a little bit. You may have heard of it. Three x structure came from Aristotle probably before that, but he’s the guy that wrote it down.

Nick [00:00:30]:
And So we’ve had this for 2000 years at least on paper or whatever he wrote on papyrus, I guess. And, and and it it just Kind of defines how things go. Literally, it’s not really that clever. It’s just beginning, middle, end. We’re gonna talk about why there’s 2 in the middle of act 2 next, But for now, I just want you to see what these plot points are, the ones that I use anyway. You’ll recognize some of these. I’ve stolen them, Graciously, from, people that have written before me, you’ll recognize a lot of plot points from Save the Cat, the beat sheet Blake Snyder wrote, things like, romancing the beat, borrow some of these. A lot of these are the same cross genres, which is why I’m sharing them with you even though I use these Almost exclusively for thrillers.

Nick [00:01:13]:
That’s just because that’s all I write. If I wrote romance, guess what? I’d use the same things. You know? Maybe I’d change the name of bad guys or something like that, but there’s a bad guy. There’s an in every every book, every genre book, genre fiction, I should say. So here’s what they are. The beginning, act 1 is what we’re gonna call it. The beginning has 3 in there, and I’ve again, I’ve made these simple. So I put 3 in each of these so that we have a nice clean twelve.

Nick [00:01:37]:
Maybe you want 13. Maybe there’s a middle one in there that you missed. Whatever it is, know what mine are so that you can adopt it, practice it, get it, you know, intuitive, and then figure out what’s What needs to change to make it easier for you? That’s what we’re trying to do here. Anyway, the beginning, act 1 has your hook. I mentioned that. It’s got the theme stated. We’ll talk about what theme is and why I’m making a weird face when I say theme. And then it ends with an exciting incident.

Nick [00:02:02]:
I almost said exciting incident, but, you know, actually pretty good. If you wanna really make your book work, make the incident exciting. So the inciting incident is what catapults everybody into act 2, and that word Catapult is important because it needs to feel like the main character is thrust into the rest of the book. They can’t go back. Right? Frodo decides he’s got to put the ring in the fiery thing. I don’t know. I’m not super familiar with that. And so that’s an exciting inciting incident.

Nick [00:02:27]:
It’s also an exciting incident. In act 2, this middle part, it’s actually split into 2 sections. We’ll talk about why later. The middle part, the first part of the middle, I call the reactive phase. Your main character at Al, you know, the people they’re with, are they’re reacting to what happened, the inciting inciting incident and possibly before that. They’re reacting to the antagonist’s work. They may not even see it yet. If you’re writing a mystery, you don’t even know who that is, but They’re reacting to it.

Nick [00:02:54]:
They’re reacting to that new world they’re in. This is where the b story comes in. If you’ve got like a love interest, romance, hey, This is you. Obviously, you may introduce these characters before and we may see flickers of this, but we’re gonna spend more time on the b story in this middle reactive Phase. Fun and games. This is one of those examples of something that’s not a point, but a range. So this is a range of scenes or chapters, where the fun and games happens or I call the promise of the premise. So what you’ve promised the reader that they’re going to get in this book is What? And that happens in the fun and games.

Nick [00:03:26]:
Okay? So if there’s a monster in your book and we know that there’s a monster in your there’s supposed to be a monster in your creature feature. Guess what? Gotta put it in the put in the section here. We need to see the monster, the fun and games. And then this all ends with a midpoint. This is a twist. This is something that subverts the expectation. So whatever genre you’re writing, there’s a way to subvert whatever expectation Your reader has at this point in the book. They think this is how the book’s gonna go and then bang, midpoint, we twist it around.

Nick [00:03:52]:
Moving into the middle proactive section, like you might guess, this is kind of the antithesis to the middle reactive section. Our main characters now, our our good guys, are moving toward the end, and they’ve had some plans that have failed, but they’re no longer reacting. No longer saying, I don’t know what’s going on. Let me just figure this out as I go. Now they’re saying, alright. You know what? This is kinda pissing me off. We’re gonna figure this out. We’re gonna make this Whatever it is, historical romance, you know, you gotta I don’t wanna go into that, but you you can do this in any any genre.

Nick [00:04:18]:
Right? You have a section in the book after the middle midpoint Where our main characters are starting to put plans together that they think they’re actually gonna they’re gonna work. They don’t work, but we’ll get there. They just think that they’re gonna work. They’re being proactive about it now. This is where the bad guys close in. This is kind of a thriller speak way of saying, bad guys close in another range of scenes and chapters. Maybe this is the car chase happens. Right? At the 3 fourths point in the movie, we always see a car chase in in an action adventure Michael Bay movie.

Nick [00:04:49]:
Right? All is Lost happens after that. This is, A range of scenes sometimes. Sometimes it’s more of just 1 chapter, 1 1 plot point. It doesn’t really matter, but the whole point is this kind of squishy, vague, definition It’s just showing your main character losing pretty bad, and they’re starting to feel bad for themselves. This all culminates with another Plot point, another twist, ish. It doesn’t have to be a twist, but it’s a twist in the way of thinking where all of a sudden this guy we’ve been rooting for, this girl we’ve been rooting for Has failed utterly, and they’re just woe is me. Right? That’s the kind of feeling that they have. This is one where I this is what I call it.

Nick [00:05:27]:
Some people call it something different, but this is the word that I use for The term that I use for this. So this is a point near the end of act 2 actually, right at the end of act 2 that launches us into the final act. This is where things get a little complicated for writers because a lot of times and I I suffer from this a lot. I will write the finale, and it’s sort of a climax at the same time, and then I’m like, shoot. Alright. I’m done. And and it just ends. And the pacing is off because of that.

Nick [00:05:52]:
The structure is off. The shape and the speed of my book doesn’t work now, And I don’t know that until I write it all out and in an outline form. Now if I’ve done my job well, I’ve done this already, and I fixed this already. So I’m kinda talking about books that I wrote a long time ago that for whatever reason didn’t generate that follow through, that read through. And this is why in the in the last Act. In act 3, the end, right, beginning, middle, end, we have a finale. Now this finale is not a plot point. This is a range.

Nick [00:06:21]:
Okay? And if done well, you want to have this be multiple chapters and multiple scenes long. We’ll talk about why later, but it all comes down to pacing. It all comes down to making it feel like the end. It’s the lead up to the final battle. Right? It’s the lead up to the final reveal, whatever that is. And then there is a point within that finale called the climax. This is 1 scene, 1 plot point. After that, however, you have more book to tell, more story to tell.

Nick [00:06:48]:
And this is the denouement. This is a French word that literally means tying up loose ends. Okay? Or something about threads. I don’t know. We’ll we’ll talk about it later. There’s a whole slide, a whole thing. But this section of of scenes, again, a range of scenes, it it can be 2. It can be 10.

Nick [00:07:03]:
Really wanna keep it probably on the shorter side, We’ll talk about that later. It all comes down to percentages and things like that. Again, we’re not making a formula out of this, a blueprint that you have to follow. We’re just talking about pacing. We’re just talking about If you don’t do this, your pacing might feel off for some readers, and we don’t want that. We want the pacing to feel good, to feel natural, to feel like something they’ve expected. And so the Danuma is a great place to tie up any loose ends. If you’ve got all of these things that culminated in the climax and the finale before that, all these answers to to problems that you’ve introduced your main characters too throughout the book.

Nick [00:07:36]:
Sometimes you don’t get them all wrapped up. Sometimes you don’t tie them all up. Sometimes you want to introduce a new one, that’s related to the book that sets you up for the next book in the series. It’s called a cliffhanger. This all happens in the Dunuemant. So this is all the the the range of stuff that happens At the very end of the book. Okay. So this is the plot.

Nick [00:07:53]:
This is the structure that we’re gonna talk about. There are handouts, I guess, printouts that you can print out and and actually follow through with me. So I recommend doing that. Don’t look ahead, though. This does go in order and we need to talk about the beginning before we can talk about the end. So let’s keep Moving through this module.

Mastering the Art of Plot Points

Today we’re going to dive deep into the essential elements of plot points and how they shape the structure of compelling storytelling.

Let’s unpack the three-act structure and explore the key plot points that define the pacing and structure of a story.

Understanding the Three-Act Structure

The three-act structure has been a fundamental framework for storytelling for centuries. It’s a simple yet powerful tool that delineates the beginning, middle, and end of a narrative.

Dating back to Aristotle, this structure provides a blueprint for effective storytelling, offering a clear roadmap for engaging the audience.

Act 1 sets the stage for the story’s unfolding, and within this act, we find three crucial plot points.

The hook is the initial grabber, the theme stated sets the underlying message, and the exciting incident launches the narrative forward.

These plot points serve to captivate the audience, establish the story’s core themes, and propel the protagonist into the journey that awaits them.

Act 2 is divided into two sections, each with distinct plot points that drive the narrative forward.

The first half, the reactive phase, sees the characters responding to the challenges presented, while the fun and games provide an opportunity to fulfill the promises made to the readers, and the midpoint delivers an unexpected twist that subverts expectations, injecting new energy into the story.

Moving into the latter half of Act 2, the narrative shifts towards the middle proactive section. Here, the characters take charge, setting plans in motion and facing the antagonistic forces head-on.

This shift from reaction to action intensifies the narrative tension and propels the story towards its climax.

Within the middle proactive section, the all is lost moment serves as a critical turning point. As the characters face insurmountable obstacles and experience profound failure, the readers are plunged into a moment of despair and uncertainty.

This plot point heightens the stakes and sets the stage for the final act.

Act 3 unfolds with a series of plot points building towards the climactic finale. This section conveys the lead-up to the final battle or resolution, culminating in the ultimate showdown or revelation that brings the story’s central conflict to its peak.

Following the climax, the denouement provides the much-needed closure for the narrative.

This section allows for the resolution of lingering plot threads, the fulfillment of character arcs, and the opportunity to introduce cliffhangers or tease the next installment in a series.

It’s where loose ends are tied up, setting the stage for a satisfying conclusion.

Understanding and mastering plot points is essential for crafting captivating stories that resonate with readers. By harnessing the power of the three-act structure and strategically placing key plot points throughout the narrative, writers can create compelling and immersive storytelling experiences.

As we continue on this journey of storytelling mastery, let’s embrace the art of plot points and infuse our narratives with depth, impact, and emotional resonance.

I hope this exploration of plot points inspires you to delve deeper into the craft of storytelling and empowers you to create narratives that leave a lasting impression.

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