A Strong Reminder of What’s At Stake In Your Story

This is part three in a four-part series on story structure. You can read part one here and part two here

There are some moments in a story that are huge. And others that aren’t always quite as huge, but are just as important.

In fact, without them, your story won’t be balanced like it needs to be.

These not-always-huge-but-always-important moments are known as Pinch Points, and your story needs two of them. Not only that, but they also need to be impactful, and they need to show up in the right location in the story.

Get it wrong, and your story will suffer.

Pinch Points

Pinch Points are “an example, or reminder, of the nature and implications of the antagonistic force, that is not filtered by the hero’s experience“–according to Larry Brooks of StoryFix.com.

Essentially Pinch Points are two moments in your story that remind the reader–and sometimes the protagonist–of what’s at stake and what the consequences could be if the antagonist wins.

These little moments occur in two very specific locations in your story:

  1. Half way between the First Plot Point and the Midpoint
  2. Halfway between the Midpoint and the Second Plot Point (which we’ll be talking about soon)

Again I’m going to send you over to StoryFix.com to read a post Larry wrote about Pinch Points. He gives some really great examples of how Pinch Points work in a story.

So go read that article, and then come back here for another example from the movie, Twilight: Eclipse.

Pinch Point Examples from Twilight: Eclipse

I’m always on the look out for movies (and books) that have great story structure. And the Twilight series follows the structure that Larry and I teach perfectly. So I figured that would be the best example for me to use as an illustration of what Pinch Points are.

One of my favorite movies in the Twilight series is Eclipse. It has great structure and really fulfills the mission of each story milestone. Especially when it comes to the Pinch Points.

In this movie, the Pinch Points are done really well.

Pinch Point One occurs as a short scene–we see a news report on television talking about the disappearances in Seattle. The disappearances are getting more frequent and the city is being turned upside down during the night–and no one knows why yet. (What’s happening is an army of vampires are being created, but we don’t find that out ’til later in the movie.)

Then Pinch Point Two occurs as a dream–we see Bella, the protagonist, dream of vampire, Victoria (this movie’s true antagonist), telling an ally vampire to kill Bella. It turns out Victoria is “hiding” behind the vampire army she’s created, letting them make decisions for her. (The “deciding” thing comes into play because there’s a vampire who can see the future–but only when people make a clear decision.)

Without seeing a deconstruction of the entire movie, these scenes may not make much sense to you. But if you look at the core of what they’re doing–showing what’s at stake and what will happen if the antagonist wins–you can see the value they offer to a story.

But Pinch Points aren’t the final stop on Story Rd. There’s still one more very, very important story moment that has to happen. That moment is the Second Plot Point, and it’s up next.

Share With Us

What are your thoughts on Pinch Points? Can you see how they can be used to up the ante in your story? 

Image courtesy of umjanedoan

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  1. […] This is the final post in a four-part series on story structure. You can read part one here, part two here and part three here.  […]

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