How to Identify the Plot Point

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How to Identify the Plot Point

Postby dios4vida » 06 Jun 2012, 14:16

Hey all,

I'm trying to pick out the specific point where my novel shifts from the third act to the fourth (or the second to the third, if you're going by the three act structure). It's the point where everything starts barrelling towards the climax, where that last bit of information needed is given, where the protagonist has everything he needs to beat the bad guy and save the world. You'd think it would be easy to see that point in my own writing, but I can't seem to figure out where that point exactly is.

Brief run-down: my protag has gone through all these trials (obviously) and, having their plan to beat the bad guy fail miserably before they can enact it, recruits an unlikely ally. With these allies, they have everything at their disposal they will need to win the day, even if they aren't sure of that yet.

But the next scene is a big turning point for my protag's character. It's here where he grows enough that his resolve firms up and he's finally strong enough personally to face down the bad guy.

So plot-wise it looks like the first is my Second Plot Point, but character arc-wise it looks like the second is.

Does anyone have any input on this? Where is that point, do you think? (I'm asking because I'm looking at pacing and word counts and needing to know exactly where my last act starts so I don't rush it.)
Brenda :)

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Re: How to Identify the Plot Point

Postby Claudie » 06 Jun 2012, 15:21

I'd say that unless you present new information in the second scene that leads to your hero growing up, your first scene is the Second Plot Point. I mean, you have the pre-finale lull (wear their plan fails miserably), you have the new information (allies, whoo!) and you say yourself they now have what they need. The second plot point is essential, but it doesn't need to pack as big a dramatic punch as the FPP. It's that moment when you feel the tables are turning, and maybe maybe the heroes can win?

Don't worry about the second scene. What I mean is that, if I recall correctly (and I should, because I've just reread both of Storyfix on SPP and Part 4), the conquering of inner demons happens in Part 4. Or, well, "The hero should demonstrate that she or he has conquered any inner demons that have stood in their way in the past, either in their life or specific to your story. That may have begun in Part 3, but it’s put into use by the hero in Part 4." (taken directly from Larry Brooks' post on Part 4, here: http://storyfix.com/story-structure-ser ... -final-act )

So yeah. That's my input.
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Re: How to Identify the Plot Point

Postby polymath » 06 Jun 2012, 15:45

What you call a plot point I know as a crisis, also major turn. Five crises: inciting crisis, realization crisis, climax crisis, tragic crisis, and transformation crisis. Each is based on addressing a central dramatic complication, which is a problem wanting satisfaction.

The synopsis you give suggests to me the problem is a bad guy. A villain. For a who-done-it mystery, a murderer is the villain but the problem wanting satisfaction is finding out who done it, the murderer. I don't see what makes your bad guy a villain or a problem wanting satisfaction.

A basic outline of a five-act structure, each part roughly the same in word count and similar to a three-act or four-act structure:

Exposition act, introduction scenes, primarily of the problem wanting satisfaction, minor turn
Inciting crisis bridge scene, major turn
Rising action act, scene one, minor turn
Rising action act, scene two, minor turn
Rising action act, scene three, minor turn
Realization crisis bridge scene, major turn
Climax act, entry scene, minor turn
Climax crisis bridge scene, most major turn
Climax act, exit scene, minor turn
Tragic criris bridge scene, major turn
Falling action act, scene one, minor turn
Falling action act, scene two, minor turn
Falling action act, scene three, minor turn
Transformation crisis bridge scene, major turn
Denouement act scenes

I think you've got each scene and act up through the third falling action scene, but shy of the transformation crisis bridge scene and denouement act scenes. A transformation crisis is when a protagonist at last realizes an appreciable change in circumstances due to a central dramatic complication's dramatic action.
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Re: How to Identify the Plot Point

Postby Hillsy » 07 Jun 2012, 03:20

dios4vida wrote:Does anyone have any input on this? Where is that point, do you think? (I'm asking because I'm looking at pacing and word counts and needing to know exactly where my last act starts so I don't rush it.)


Might not be exactly the info you were after but the first thing I thought of when reading your question was the hollywood formula that Lou Anders discusses at length (writing excuses: 6-18). He said the 3rd act should begin 3/4s of the way through the novel (script) and at that point the protag should be the furthest away from success as possible (The low point) and then the third act is entirely the struggle (Physical or figurative) from the low point to the end.

I'm paraphrasing naturally.
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