Seven Point System
To build a story you must have a story in mind. Plot – characters – conflict. Before you start to layout your plan for that book Dan Wells tells us, don’t start at the beginning, but start at the end. This is not the last chapter. It is the climax. Figure out the external conflict and internal conflict.
Once that is done then go to the other end, the beginning and start. Normally a good book will take a weak or flawed character on a journey that ends with them growing in some way. By the end, they are a better or stronger person because of their journey. I’ve heard Richard Peck tell writer that he always rewrites the first chapter after he is finished the first draft. He says you can’t know where to start until you figure out how the story ends. He is doing the same things as what Dan is suggesting, except Dan is trying to save you from having to rewrite the first chapter.
This system can be applied to almost any writing, including short stories and novellas.
Here are the notes I wrote while watching the videos below:
The Seven Points:
Hook – Starting state loser – weak – flawed.
Plot Turn 1: Introduces conflict. Just as the midpoint moves you from the beginning to end, Plot Turn 1 moves you from the beginning to midpoint. Call to adventure. Introduces the conflict. The character’s world changes: Meets new people – discovers new secrets – follows the White Rabbit.
Pinch 1: Applies pressure – something goes wrong – bad guys attack and the MC is forced to go forward – often used to introduce the villain.
Midpoint: Learns the truth. This is wear the MC changes from reaction to action.
Pinch 2: Applies more pressure until the situation seems hopeless. A plan fails – a mentor dies, leaves the hero 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.
Plot Turn 2: Moves the story from the midpoint to the end. At the midpoint your MC is determined to do something, and finds the resolution you do it, so Plot Turn 2 is where the MC obtains the final thing they need to make it happen. “The power is in you!” Grasping victory from the jaws of defeat. MC has the piece they need even if they don’t realize it. The piece that gives the character something they decide to do in the climax.
Resolution – What is the climax? MC succeeds, and is now a changed person.
The story is not complete. It is just a skeleton, and needs flesh to fill it out: Rounded characters – Rich environments – Prologue? – Try/Fail cycles – Subplots.
If you haven’t watched Dan Wells videos, you might want to take a few minutes to do so. At least bookmark this page, so when you have a half hour you can watch without wasting time to find it.