A well-structured story is the backbone of any narrative, providing a framework that guides the reader through the plot. It ensures the story flows seamlessly, with a clear beginning, middle, and end.
One storytelling technique that has proven to be highly effective is the 7-Point Story Structure. In this article, I will delve into this plot structure, exploring its importance and providing examples to help you understand how to use it in your writing.
What is the 7-Point Story Structure?
The 7-Point Story Structure offers a comprehensive framework that helps writers build a compelling narrative arc. Following this structure, you can create a story that resonates with your audience and keeps them hooked until the last page.
This seven-point plot structure consists of dividing the narrative structure into seven different parts. It is a complex structure, but it also allows you to work backward, from the ending to the story’s beginning. This structure’s secret is to add an event at each step so that there is a crescendo of action during the story.
The Seven Acts of the 7-Point Story Structure
The 7-point story structure consists of seven acts, each serving a specific purpose in advancing the plot and developing the characters. Let’s take a closer look at each act.
Act 1: The Hook
The first act of the 7-point story structure is the Hook. This is where you grab the reader’s attention and set the stage for the story.
It’s essential to create a compelling opening that introduces your protagonist, the world they inhabit, and the central conflict they will face. The Hook should immediately draw readers in, making them curious about what will happen next.
A great example of a Hook can be found in J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit“. The story begins with the memorable line, “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.” This simple yet intriguing statement immediately piques the reader’s curiosity, prompting them to learn more about this hobbit and the adventures that await
Act 2: The Plot Turn 1
In the second act, we encounter the Plot Turn 1. This is a major event or revelation that propels the story forward and presents the protagonist with a new challenge or opportunity.
The Plot Turn 1 often occurs around the end of the first quarter of the story, serving as a turning point that changes the direction of the narrative.
A classic example of a Plot Turn 1 is found in William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet“. The Plot Turn 1 takes place when Romeo and Juliet meet at the Capulet’s ball and fall in love at first sight. This unexpected encounter sets the stage for the tragic events that unfold throughout the rest of the play.
Act 3: The Pinch Point 1
The Pinch Point 1 is the third act of the 7-point story structure. This is where the antagonist or opposing force pressures the protagonist, making their journey more challenging.
The Pinch Point 1 serves as a reminder of the central conflict and raises the stakes for the protagonist.
In George Orwell’s “1984“, the Pinch Point 1 occurs when the Thought Police capture Winston Smith for his rebellious thoughts against the totalitarian regime. This event reinforces the oppressive nature of society and intensifies the obstacles Winston must overcome.
Act 4: The Midpoint
The Midpoint is the story’s halfway point and is often a significant turning point for the protagonist. It is a moment of realization, where the protagonist gains new insights or experiences a shift in perspective.
The Midpoint can also introduce a major plot twist or revelation that changes the course of the narrative.
A famous example of a Midpoint is found in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho“. The Midpoint occurs when Marion Crane, the film’s protagonist, is brutally murdered in the infamous shower scene. This shocking twist completely alters the audience’s expectations and sets the stage for the rest of the film.
Act 5: The Pinch Point 2
The Pinch Point 2 is the fifth act of the 7-point story structure. Similar to the Pinch Point 1, this act represents another moment of pressure or challenge for the protagonist.
It serves as a reminder of the central conflict and raises the stakes even higher, pushing the protagonist to their limits.
In J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers“, the Pinch Point 2 occurs when Frodo and Sam encounter the giant spider Shelob in the treacherous tunnels of Cirith Ungol. This intense and life-threatening encounter highlights the dangers they face on their journey to destroy the One Ring.
Act 6: The Plot Turn 2
The Plot Turn 2 is the penultimate act of the 7-point story structure. It is another major event or revelation that significantly alters the course of the narrative, leading the protagonist closer to the resolution.
The Plot Turn 2 often occurs around the end of the third quarter of the story, setting the stage for the climactic final act.
A prime example of a Plot Turn 2 can be found in Suzanne Collins’ “The Hunger Games“. The Plot Turn 2 occurs when Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take her sister’s place in the deadly Hunger Games arena. This selfless act not only propels Katniss into the heart of the Games but also sets in motion a series of events that will change the fate of Panem.
Act 7: The Resolution
The final act of the 7-point story structure is the Resolution. This is where the story reaches its climax, and all loose ends are tied up.
The Resolution provides closure for the reader, answering any remaining questions and providing a sense of satisfaction.
In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby“, the Resolution occurs when the tragic events surrounding Jay Gatsby’s life come to light. This revelation brings the story to its dramatic conclusion and sheds light on the themes of love, wealth, and the American Dream explored throughout the novel.
The 7-Point Story Structure: example in narrative
Let’s take “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” as an example. There is also a beautiful film based on a book of the same name.
As a first point, the Hook, we get to know Harry Potter and the story’s context. He lives with his aunt and uncle in a basement. He later discovers that he is a wizard and that his destiny is to go to Hogwarts, the school of magic. This phase is Plot Turn 1, i.e., the first turning point in the plot.
The antagonist begins to be recognized. A troll attacks the school, and Harry Potter confronts it. This corresponds to Pinch Point 1. When they arrive at the Midpoint, Harry Potter and his companions discover more about Voldemort and the Philosopher’s Stone. They realize they must have it before Voldemort gets it.
In Pinch Point 2, Harry finds himself alone to face his enemy. His companions have been stopped in the previous action and cannot help him. When everything seems to have no happy ending for Harry, the mirror shows him where to find the Philosopher’s Stone now that Harry has revealed how pure his soul and intentions are. This concludes Plot Turn 2.
In the story’s conclusion, the Resolution, Harry succeeds in his task, and Voldemort is defeated.
Tips for using the 7-Point Story Structure in your writing
Now that we have explored the 7-point plot structure and examined examples from renowned stories, let’s discuss how you can utilize this plot structure in your writing.
- Develop compelling characters. Each act should contribute to the growth and development of your main character. Create well-rounded, relatable characters that readers can connect with.
- Craft engaging conflict. The conflicts in your story should be meaningful and drive the plot forward. Make sure they have high stakes and create tension that keeps readers invested.
- Maintain a consistent pacing. The 7-point story structure provides a natural rhythm to your story. Ensure that each act flows seamlessly into the next, balancing action and introspection.
- Create satisfying resolutions. The resolution of your story should tie up loose ends and provide a sense of closure. Make sure the ending is satisfying for your readers and stays true to the themes and tone of your story.
- Don’t force the structure. Don’t shoehorn your story into the 7-Point Structure if it doesn’t fit naturally. The structure should serve the story, not the other way around.
- Be original. While a well-established plot structure can be helpful, make sure your story brings something fresh and unique. Avoid clichés and predictable plotlines.
- Avoid rushing through acts. Each act of the 7-point story structure deserves its own time and attention. Don’t rush through the setup or the falling action in favor of the more exciting moments. Each act contributes to the overall narrative.
7-Point Story Structure in different genres
The 7-point plot structure can be applied to a wide range of genres, from romance to science fiction to mystery.
- Romance. In a romance story, the hook could be the moment the two love interests meet. Plot point 1 might involve a misunderstanding or conflict that drives them apart, while the midpoint could be a realization of their true feelings. Pinch points and plot point 2 would introduce obstacles and challenges to their relationship, leading to the resolution where they overcome these hurdles and find their happily ever after.
- Science Fiction. In a science fiction story, the hook could introduce a futuristic world or a technological breakthrough. Plot point 1 might involve the discovery of a hidden power or the protagonist’s call to action. The midpoint could reveal a dark secret or conspiracy, while pinch points and plot point 2 would raise the stakes and lead to the resolution where the protagonist saves the day or uncovers the truth.
- Mystery. In a mystery story, the hook could be the discovery of a crime or a puzzling event. Plot point 1 might involve the protagonist taking on the case or receiving a clue that sets them on the right track. The midpoint could unveil a shocking twist or new evidence, while pinch points and plot point 2 would increase the danger and suspense. The resolution would then reveal the identity of the culprit and tie up any loose ends.
There is no good and evil, there is only power and those too weak to seek it.Voldemort- Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
bibisco’s support for seven act structure implementation
The 7-Point Story Structure serves as a valuable roadmap for crafting compelling narratives. bibisco novel writing software offers writers a robust toolkit to integrate with this structure seamlessly.
With its user-friendly interface and customizable features, bibisco empowers writers to effectively implement each element of the seven-point story structure.
From outlining the Hook to developing pivotal plot points and crafting a satisfying resolution, bibisco provides specialized tools for organizing scenes, fleshing out characters, and structuring the overall narrative arc.
Moreover, the software’s visual project overview allows writers to track their progress and navigate between story elements effortlessly. By leveraging bibisco’s capabilities, writers can effectively utilize the 7-Point Story Structure to create engaging stories that resonate with readers.
In conclusion, the 7-Point Story Structure is a powerful tool to enhance your storytelling abilities. By understanding the importance of story structure, exploring the seven acts in detail, and learning from successful examples, you can effectively utilize this plot structure in your writing.
Avoid common mistakes, develop compelling characters, and create satisfying resolutions. With the right resources and tools, you can master the 7-point story structure and improve your writing.