I am an avid listener of the Writing Excuses Podcast (features Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, Howard Tayler & Mary Robinette Kowal) and last week they focused on something called the Seven Point Story Structure. This is the brain child of Dan Wells who adapted it from a Star Trek role -playing book. (See why I thought it would be great for Fan Fiction writers!)
I’ve Got an Idea, Now What?
Last time I focused on ideas. so now we’re going to take your idea and give it structure using the Seven Point method. Lucky for all of us, Mr. Wells has a presentation of the Seven Point Story Structure on YouTube, so I’ve included the videos in this post. I’m just going to hit the high points and provide you with a worksheet (because I love the worksheets!) so that you can get to work. The videos are entertaining and he gives lots of geeky examples! He covers information for Romance writers too.
Begin with the End in Mind
Before you write a single word of your story, you must know how it is going to end. If you don’t know how it is going to end, you’ll just be writing aimlessly until you write yourself into a corner, or are forced to go back and start over. So before you do another thing, write down where you want your characters to be at the end of your story. (Just the end, you don’t have to figure out how they got there…yet.)
Once you know where you are ending, you can just put your character in the opposite place for the beginning…so now you have your beginning and your end. Nice, eh?
Seven Point Story Structure Components
Here’s the skinny on the Seven Point Story Structure. This method focuses on the seven pivotal events in your book that drive the story. In the downloadable worksheets for this section, you’ll find examples for this structure.
This is where your characters start from. You set up your character’s world and set their stakes (what they have to lose) in this part.
Plot Turn 1
This is the event that sets your story in motion. It moves you from the beginning to the Midpoint. You character’s world changes here.
Pinches are where you put pressure on your hero from your antagonist to force your hero into action.
The midpoint takes your character from reaction to action. At the midpoint, your character determines that she must do something. (This can take place over a series of scenes.)
Pinch 2 is where your story takes the ultimate dive. Your hero is literally sitting in the jaws of defeat. Everything has fallen apart.
Plot Turn 2
This point moves the story from the Midpoint to the Resolution. Plot Turn 2 is where you character receives the final piece of information that he needs to make it to the resolution. (No new information can be introduced after this point.) You character believe he has the power to achieve the resolution.
Your hero completes what he sets out to do.
You can apply this structure to each of the threads in your story. Along with a blank worksheet, I’ve provided you with several examples. I happened to watch the first episode (two-part) of DS9 last night, so I broke them down with the 7 point story structure as an example. It’s actually fun to see how movies, tv shows and books make compelling use of this structure. Once you know it, you will see it everywhere!
Dan Wells (see his books here) breaks down Story Structure
(It’s a 5 part series. I’ve listed them in order.)