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A Look at the Second Pinch Point in Stories

Last week we took a look at the first pinch point—that moment in your story that comes after the hero’s goal is set and before the midpoint appears (in which the character has some important choices to make about the tough obstacles he’s facing).

Pinch points are mostly about the opposition. If the first pinch point reveals the strength of the opposition, the second one showcases the full force of it. If your character faces the edge of a hurricane at sea at the first pinch point, showing him what he’s truly up against, the second pinch point is going to be the battle for survival with the full brunt of the storm.

This isn’t the climax, but it’s building up to it. It’s preparing the stage for the final attack or onslaught or challenge your character will have to take.

As I said in last week’s post, I cringe when I have to do math and force my story into something like “the second pinch point comes 5/8ths into the story, at the 62% mark, exactly between the middle of the story and the second plot point—the middle of the third act.” Continue Reading…

What Those Strange Pinch Points Are All About

You may have heard of pinch points. Or not. I’m going to take a look at these key markers in a novel because I’m working up to introduce you to my 10-20-30 Scene Builder concept I’ve been putting together.

Because constructing a solid novel is daunting and difficult, having a kind of road map that shows the way makes the difference between arriving at your destination and ending up stuck in a bog in the middle of nowhere.

I see way too many manuscripts with noses sticking up from the muck and no handy tow truck nearby to pull them out. Sometimes it’s better to let them sink down to oblivion.

How much better to follow that road map!

Ever Resisting Structure

Last week we looked at the midpoint. That’s a fairly easy concept to nail, right? On a map, it would be, well, the midpoint. The very middle of journey from A to Z.

But what the heck are pinch points? Do you need them? Where do they go in a novel and what’s their purpose? Continue Reading…

Ways Novelists Can Break from the Structural Rules

We’ve been looking at the downside to the three-act structure these last two weeks, and I’ve shared my thoughts on this.

Really, stories are basically a beginning, a middle, and an ending, and some writing instructors base their passion for the three-act structure on this. Meaning, since stories have a beginning, middle, and end, that must imply there are three acts.

You can use Aristotle’s concept and translate your idea into three acts: What is the first act? How the story begins. What is the second act? The middle of the story (which includes the main crisis of the dominant plot). The third act is the climax of the story and the resolution. Okay, it’s simplistic, but that’s how many justify the use of the three-act structure.

Doesn’t make sense to me. Continue Reading…

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