I’m guessing most of you will already know about 3 Act Structure (beginning, middle, end) so I’m going to leave that alone. 7 Point Structure is something I heard about for the first time this weekend, and is the same sort of idea but with more scaffolding. 3 Act Structure is sometimes felt to be too broad to be really helpful in structuring all the material and plot points, particularly when it comes to longer projects, which is where 7 Point Structure comes into play. It breaks down that beginning-middle-end shape into something a touch more detailed:
- Plot Turn 1
- Plot Turn 2
As you can see, the main additions are the ‘plot turn’ and the ‘pinch’. A ‘plot turn’ is a shaping event – a call to action, something going horribly wrong, or any other major point where an event changes the course of the story. A ‘pinch’ is the pressure point – the character’s response, or emotional testing. The ‘plot turn/pinch’ structure uses TRY/FAIL cycles. The character should TRY/FAIL at least once (and preferably more) before achieving their goal, otherwise it might be too easy for the reader to care.
Dan Wells, one of the broadcasters of Writing Excuses, has done a five-part video on YouTube going through the 7 Point Structure in detail. He’s mainly addressing it from an Outline Writing perspective – someone who preps their full story arc before actually writing, as compared to a Discovery Writing perspective, where you find out what the plot twists are as you go along – so it may not be solid gold for everyone, but still well worth watching. First section is below: