Sunday, 4 December 2011
How To Break A New Story From Scratch
Having trouble planning out story beats?
This is Dan Wells, with an awesome system for plotting an outline, using a 7 Point Story Structure...
PLOT TURN 1 (Conflict)
PINCH 1 (Horrible Things Happen)
MID-POINT (Move from Reaction To Action)
PINCH 2 (Jaws Of Defeat - lowest point)
PLOT TURN 2 (Obtain final thing)
Dan Wells On Story Structure Part 1
What's really useful with Dan's system is the order you tackle the 7 Points:
- Everything in your story leads to this moment.
- What is your story about? Where is your story going?
- Make sure you know what kind of resolution you want.
We start at the end because everything in the story leads to this moment. This is the climax. The point. Where it’s leading up to, what it’s about.
(eg Harry Potter: Harry defeats Voldemort)
- Now we know the ending, figure out where we start.
- One easy way to do this is to start with the opposite state: eg if a character is going to end strong, she should start weak. (eg starting Batman as a depressed directionless loser, or Harry Potter as weak orphan under the stairs).
4 MID POINT
- Between HOOK and RESOLUTION
- How you start moving from Hero’s beginning state to end state. It’s where Hero moves from Reaction to Action.
(eg Fellowship of the Ring: ‘Oh no, let’s not get killed’ to ‘Let’s take the fight to them’. Midpoint is Council of Elron where they make that decision.
Harry Potter: Start sad & wimpy to Defeating Voldemort, so his MidPoint is ‘He learns who Voldemort is, what V wants to do, & decide he’s going to do something about it.’)
Dan Wells on Story Structure, part 2 of 5
2 PLOT TURN 1 (CONFLICT)
- This event moves us from the HOOK to the MID POINT. It’s what sets you in motion.
- This is where we introduce our conflict.
(So Harry Potter starts with a situation, but then a conflict is introduced. Changing the world the character lives in. A Call To Adventure, Or Confronting New Ideas).
6 PLOT TURN 2
- This is the thing that moves the story from MID POINT to END
- At MIDPOINT you determine to do something, and in the RESOLUTION you do it.
So Plot Turn 2 is where you obtain the final thing you need to make it happen.
“The Power Is In You!”
(eg Star Wars “Use The Force”; Oz “You Can Go Home Any Time You Want”; Matrix “Neo: You Are The One”).
- Grasping victory from the jaws of defeat: Something horrible just happened, but now the heroes have what they need...even if they don't realise it at the time.
- It's something that's going to give us the final piece we need to move from 'trying to succeed' to finally succeeding. (eg Harry Potter: Harry discovers the stone is in her pocket because his motives are pure).
3 PINCH 1
- A PINCH is designed to Apply Pressure. Horrible things happen. The purpose of a pinch is to force your characters into action.
(eg Harry Potter: The Troll Attack. No adults around, forcing children to solve the problem on their own. It's where we introduce danger into a fun environment.)
5 PINCH 2
- Pinch 2 applies more pressure, and makes the situation seem even worse.
A plan fails; A mentor dies leaving the heroes alone; The bad guys seem to win.
- These are the jaws of defeat from which your Hero will be snatching victory. Make sure the teeth are sharp.
(eg. Harry Potter: Harry loses Ron & Hermione to the traps and is left alone)
[Forces Hero to grow up, forces to work alone, SEEMS HOPELESS].
Dan Wells on Story Structure, part 3 of 5
Examples of Romantic, Tragedy, and Horror Plots
Dan Wells on Story Structure, part 4 of 5
ICE MONSTER PROLOGUE
- The Hook scene in most story arcs is not very interesting (Most arcs start in a position of weakness)
- Most plots start before the conflict is introduced
- You need to grab readers attention NOW
- Before Heroes succeed, they need to try and fail
- Victory should be earned
- A problem that can be solved on first try isn't big enough to care about
Dan Wells on Story Structure, part 5 of 5
- Each thread can be mapped out - Spread events for pacing
- Line up the events to create powerful moments & scenes
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