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The FREE “Story Engineering” by Larry Brooks Read and Discuss Event Series

The new year is upon us, and with it a refreshing sense of what’s possible. A whole new 365 days to do with whatever we desire.

And one of the things I like to do every year, is re-read my favorite craft book, Story Engineering, by Larry Brooks.

But this year, I wanted to do something different. This year, I’m inviting you to JOIN ME.

I hosted a 7-day livestream series where we read and then discussed the sections of Story Engineering. (Video replays below) 

Why did I choose this book? Because the information in it changed my life. It took me from writing in circles to writing actual stories that were cohesive and worth publishing. It helped me get my debut novel, SoundCheck, out into the world.

It’s the only craft book that ever spoke to me and that finally made me really understand story structure and how to use it. (I was lucky enough to have found Story Engineering back when it was an eBook on Larry’s site called, Story Structure–Demystified.)

Not to mention it’s a best-seller, and Signature recently named it #3 Best Books on Writing.

And if you are following along, I highly recommend you also do the following:

1. Buy (or borrow) a copy of Story Engineering by Larry Brooks (it’s available on Kindle and in print)

2. Download the Story Engineering Reading Guide that I created to go with this event

The Story Engineering Read and Discuss Series

Additional trust-building content (will add the rest as I go, since I’m doing it live on my business Facebook page–and then sharing the replay into my free FB group):

Day 1 Livestream: Part 1 and 2 in Story Engineering 

Day 2 Livestream: Part 3 in Story Engineering 

Day 3 Livestream: Part 4 in Story Engineering 

Day 4 Livestream: Part 5 in Story Engineering up to “Foreshadowing”

Day 5 Livestream: The rest of Part 5 in Story Engineering 

Day 6 Livestream: Part 6 in Story Engineering 

Day 7 Livestream: Parts 7 and 8 in Story Engineering 

BONUS Live Call

Larry Brooks and I did a live Q&A call, to wrap up the Story Engineering series (Note: I forgot to hit record for the first few minutes of the call so it starts right into the content with Larry)

———–

Ready to find your story? Grab my FREE story development training + workbook, ‘From “Eh” to “Awesome!”‘ here

“Will It Ever Get Any Easier?” One Writer’s Journey Into Craft

NOTE: This is a guest post by Stephanie Raffelock 

The very first novel that I ever wrote was one big face-plant, replete with a black eye. Like so many writers before me, I believed that because I’d read a lot of books, I could write one. I mean, how hard can it be, right?

A story analysis with writing guru, Larry Brooks, revealed a crucial missing element to my efforts. My 65,000-word narrative was not even remotely close to an actual story. Enter Jennifer Blanchard, courtesy of an introduction via Mr. Brooks.

She remains one of the most important relationships in my writing life.

Deciding to work with Jennifer was a big investment, both in time and in money. Nonetheless my eyes had been opened to the fact that creating a novel was going to involve a little bit more than just reading one.

In fact, I was slightly embarrassed that I hadn’t realized learning the craft of something before claiming it as your art was arrogant as well as ignorant. So it was with a fair amount of humility that I gave myself to becoming a student of story. I gave myself to the pursuit of craft.

 Enter the Process

Meeting on the phone one time per week, Jennifer started me out by brainstorming a dozen “what ifs.” This was the how she ushered me into “discovering my story.”

Writers have lots and lots of ideas, but the story must be discovered, courted, wooed into existence. Each week she took me to the next step. Concept and Premise. Synopsis. Character background. Plot Points. Pinch Points. Resolve. And then we started the beat sheet, which would grow into a detailed scene list. As the structure came together, I created a personal code by which I worked: Complete the assignment. Finish on time. Don’t push back. Stay open.

By the time I was given the green light to begin writing my prose, the process was easeful. I knew my story, knew exactly where I was going and I skated to the finish line. I completed two sets of revisions and then sent it off to a professional copy editor.

In the end, I birthed–with the help of a wise “mid-wife”–my first real novel, a novel that garnered me representation with a good New York City literary agency. 

Novel Number Two

Yes, I worked with Jennifer again, certain that I would need her expertise to help birth another creation. On this go around however, she pushed. She held back answers, offering instead more questions. It was a more difficult task, but again I completed a novel. However on this novel, I decided that the execution, meaning the narrative, was off somehow, so I shelved it, promising that I would return and revisit once my ideas about the piece had cooked and simmered a bit more.

I have no issue whatsoever with shelving something that doesn’t feel like it’s my best. I am not in the business of saving or salvaging work. I crank out about 150,000 words per year between novel writing and essays and I know that not everything I write is going to be good.

Third Time’s A Charm

Jennifer guided novel number three into existence with just four phone calls. From there, I sprinted to the finish line. I like this manuscript a lot. I know that it’s a good story. It is on its first set of revisions and my goal is to have it on my agent’s desk by December 1. It is my Plan B novel.

Here’s the thing about traditional publishing; first of all it moves at glacial speed. Second, there are no guarantees that your first novel will sell, so you need to keep writing and keep writing well. Sometimes your first novel sells because your third one did and the publisher decided to go back and pick up the first one. I am in it for the long haul, so I will keep writing.

Integration (AKA: “Will This Ever Get Any Easier?”) 

I will start a new novel in January 2017, unless I am lucky enough to be re-writing one of my first two novels because a publisher wants it. The next project will likely begin with a phone call to Jennifer. I’ll get to go through my synopsis and each plot point with her. Then I’ll be on my own. After writing three novels, I’m to a place where I understand craft and how to use it in my own story.

Most good authors have a team. Go-to people with whom they can discuss and hash out their works. Jennifer will always be a part of my team.

Here’s What Makes You Integrate the Craft and Novel Development Process

Here’s what will help you integrate craft: Repetition and study. Read all of Larry Brooks’ books and all of Jennifer’s blog posts on story. Participate in her Facebook group. And find a few blogs that emphasize craft and sign up for those too. I like Steven Pressfield, Larry Brooks and Kristen Lamb. Take workshops and keep reading the novelists that you admire.

In the beginning, working in the long-form format of the novel will seem daunting. As you keep studying and practicing it becomes easier. Then you’ll be able to see for yourself when your Midpoint is thin, and you will begin to notice when you need more conflict and tension. It will occur to you one day that dialogue is in fact, action.

But you have to be committed for the long haul. You never stop being a student of story. You never stop investing in yourself. If the first novel doesn’t sell, you don’t cry, you create a Plan B.

 Eventually it gets easier and you start to feel like a pro, because honestly writing novels is not for the faint of heart. It requires the strength and courage of determination and tenacity. It demands that you keep learning the same thing over and over again, each time on a deeper level.

To some this may sound too hard. For me, it sounds like a perfect way to spend my days. I say of prayer of thanks each morning that I get to get up and write today!

About the Author: Stephanie Raffelock is a novelist and a blogger. Her debut novel is represented by Dystel Goderich Literary Management in New York. Subscribe to her quarterly newsletter and receive an appreciation gift: “The Writers Dinner,” a unique vision for an entertaining evening. 

 

I’m humbled to hear my students and clients sharing experiences like the one you just read in Stephanie’s guest post. My mission is to EMPOWER you to UNDERSTAND and be able to effectively IMPLEMENT craft in your stories. 

I want you to walk away from working with me–regardless of if you’re doing private coaching or a group workshop–and feel like you could do this again, all on your own. (Not that you have to be on your own, but I want you to be able to be.)

If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo this year and DON’T want to waste your 50,000 words, but want to write 50,000 words that you can actually do something with, be sure to check out my sixth-annual NaNo prep workshop, Novel University: NaNo Edition. It’s an idea-to-draft workshop that uses the power of story planning combined with the momentum of NaNoWriMo to help you say, “2016 is the year I FINALLY wrote a cohesive novel!”

Not only will this workshop help you plan and develop your story before you write it starting November 1, but it will give you a REPEATABLE PROCESS that you can use with every story you write from here on out. You’ll know what questions to ask, what information you need to know, and how it all works together.

Process and an integration of craft are PRICELESS when it comes to being a successful novelist.

>> Learn more about Novel University: NaNo Edition here 

3 Ways to Create A Roadmap For Your Novel

You have likely heard the term “roadmap” before. But have you heard it in relation to your novel?

Maybe. Maybe not.

If you haven’t, here’s a quick intro: a novel roadmap is a gathering of all the scenes you’ll need to write in your story to make it cohesive from beginning to end. 

There are a ton of ways to put one of these things together. But I have three specific ways that are my absolute favorite, go-to, wouldn’t do it any other way. Those are:

1. The Beat Sheet

A beat sheet is a bulleted-pointed list of scenes. Each bullet point equals one scene that needs to be in your story. And you write the bullet points in order, so you have a complete story from start to finish.

Here’s a quick example:

  • Hook: scene that shows antagonism to come
  • Intro Protagonist
  • Show Protagonist living her daily life
  • Intro what’s at stake for the Protagonist
  • Start the subplot love story

Now this is a very generic beat sheet example, and you’d want to be much more detailed when you put yours together. But the idea is getting you to think, specifically, about the scenes you’ll need to set up your story, introduce your core plot (Antagonist plus journey for the Protagonist), show the Protagonist and Antagonist getting stronger and overcoming challenges, and then resolve the story with your Protagonist stepping up to be the hero and defeating the Antagonist.

Here’s some more beat sheet stuff to go even deeper on this method.

2. The Detailed Scene Roadmap (AKA: Story Roadmap)

This is a much more detailed version of the beat sheet. It actually goes deeper into each scene, allowing you to determine not only the mission (aka: purpose) of the scene, but also the time it takes place, the location it takes place in, and any additional notes or information needed to move the story exposition forward.

Here’s an example of what a story roadmap scene can look like (explanation + example):

Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 1.30.42 PM

I like to use this version to get to know my story in a bigger way, and to make sure I’m focused on the mission of the scene (this is mission-driven storytelling, after all).

You can find a complete template for the story roadmap in my self-paced Story Roadmap Kit here.

3. The Story Circles  

This is a method I just learned from my mentor and story coach, Larry Brooks. He uses this exercise as a way to get a bird’s eye view of a story.

What you do for this method is get four sheets of paper (lined or unlined is up to you). Turn the paper vertical and on each page draw 12 circles (either four rows of three circles, or three rows of four circles, up to you).

Next, label the pages: Part One, Part Two, Part Three and Part Four.

Then go back and account for your story structure milestones. Your Hook would be one of the first two circles on the Part One sheet. Your First Plot Point would go on the Part One sheet, written above the very last circle on the page (bottom-right). Your Midpoint would go on the Part Two sheet, written above the very last circle on the page (bottom-right). Same goes for your SPP, but put that one on the sheet marked Part Three.

Now you’ve got an idea of where all your story milestones need to land.

Using this document, you can go through and actually use each circle to mark a scene in your story. Of course you may end up having more than just the 12 scenes accounted for on each page. In that case, you’ll just need to add more (or less) circles to accommodate.

And there you have it. Three very simple, yet powerful ways to figure out the scenes in your novel.

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Which of the three story roadmap methods is your favorite? 

Want a template for the Beat Sheet, Story Roadmap and the Story Circles? Join the Students of Story membership site, where you’ll find these three resources and more to help you develop, create, plan and write your novel.

I Think I Learned As Much From This As The Students Did

I presented a 4-day novel development intensive alongside my mentor and story coach, Larry Brooks on April 3-7. This epic event was known as Your Story On Steroids. Twenty-six students showed up to the event, ready to learn, improve and grow.

But I think it was me who transformed the most. (Although we did end up changing a lot of writer’s lives too.)

Because as the days rolled on, I realized something: there are writers out there who are willing to bet on themselves and willing to step up and invest in the education and support they need to be successful. There are writers out there willing to be totally unstoppable and do whatever it takes. 

There are writers out there who are open to learning and getting feedback and actually using that feedback to improve their stories.

From the interactions with participants and having the incredible opportunity to work with and learn from Larry Brooks, I grew as a student of story and as a story coach. 

Your Story On Steroids Retreat April 2016

[on left] Evening 1: Getting everything all set up and ready for the 26 emerging novelists who were joining us for the event. [top right] Yep–Weiland (and my hubs) traveled with me across the country to hang out at the Benson Hotel while I presented YSOS with Larry. [bottom right] Larry and me!! It was so friggin’ exciting to finally meet him in person after working together virtually since 2009.

Being part of this event made me realize that I want this level of educating writers on story craft. I want to be known in the industry as a kick-ass story coach and bestselling author, just like Larry is. 
 
And that’s going to take a whole new level of commitment and taking action on my part. (Just a little something I’m working on right now.) 
 
Here are the ways I’ve stepped up my game since the event ended:
  • Created a new Instagram-only video series called “15 Seconds of Story.” I’ll be sharing quick, bite-sized tips about writing better novels. (I just posted the first one yesterday!) You can follow me on Instagram here.
  • Committed to taking action daily (I’m following a list known as the “Daily Fucking Actions Checklist”–because it’s so intense)
  • Started connecting with podcasters (I’m going to be on two podcasts this month! Can’t wait to share them with ya)
  • Started blogging again (I’ve been writing emails to you, but not posting the content on my blog, oy!)
And there’s a whole lot more to come. Because I’ve been on a mission for a long time now… but thanks to Your Story On Steroids, that mission has gotten a crazy-huge fire lit under it. 
Watch out world.

ARE YOU READY TO…

  • Stop the procrastinating and self-sabotage and finally write your novel?
  • Feel confident in yourself as a writer, storyteller and pro novelist?
  • Be a more efficient storyteller, so you can write a kick-ass book faster and more effectively?

Then check out the Students of Story membership site and community where you’ll master the craft of writing novels while making progress on your own writing, connecting with a community of likeminded writers, and getting support from a pro story coach (me). 

Confessions of A Converted Story “Pantser”

It isn’t often that I’m truly touched by a blog post. But over the weekend, I was moved to tears when I read a guest post on Larry Brooks’ site, StoryFix.

I was moved because I realized that I had a hand in changing someone’s life; I helped turn an emerging writer from a dreamer into an author with the potential to go far in her novel-writing career.

The guest post was written by my client, Stephanie Raffelock, about her experience writing a novel that works. She worked with Larry and I to make this happen, and now she’s a total believer in the story planning and developing process.

Here’s an excerpt from her post:

Larry Brooks made me cry. An ego bruising, embarrassing cry.

He did it by asking a simple question: What is the dramatic goal of your hero?

I answered every question he put forth in that scary, unflinching Questionnaire he uses in his coaching programs… all but that one.

It was like when my mother asked me if I had taken her beloved blue Mustang without her permission and I told her, “I have so much research to do at the library. I have a paper due.” I never did answer her simple question–“did you take the freaking car or not!?”

A series of questions loomed on the rest of that damn Questionnaire.

After answering the first few, the harsh truth began to reveal itself. In spite of intelligence, a modicum of humor and a great passion for the written word, I would not recognize the components of a good story if I tripped over them and landed in a puddle of my own shock and awe.

Welcome to Novel Writing 101…

…And that’s when I began to study story structure.

Larry recommended story planner and coach, Jennifer Blanchard, to help me take my story to the next level after his initial feedback (it may have had something to do with some of the names I called him at the time). I bit the bullet and signed up to work with her. It is humbling, and also a great deal of fun, to be learning from a woman who is young enough to be my daughter.

Jennifer, by the way, is a passionate practitioner and spokesperson for the very same principles that Brooks used to crush my belief that my original story had legs.

Step by step, she took me through the principles of Story Engineering (Brooks’ first writing book), and helped me to plan and plot a story.

From idea to concept, premise, plot points, pinch points and character development, we worked together for a month before I wrote a single word of prose. The exercise not only changed the way that I write novels, it changed the way that I see the world: there are stories all around us in the people we know. When the next-door neighbor tells me about her trip to visit her aging parents, I’ll be darned if there isn’t a hero, a villain, if there aren’t obstacles to overcome and conflict to negotiate, demons to slay, and a desired goal motivated by stakes that matter.

I watch television and movies through different eyes now.

Where’s the first plot point? What does the hero want? Why am I rooting for him? …

…Working with Larry and with Jennifer, I embraced the notion of being a novelist. I respect the craft of novel writing enough to want to study it, learn it and integrate it, thereby respecting my readers enough to want to give them a good story.

We live in a fast, digitized world, where people abbreviate their words (that drives me crazy) and do their lives in limited character sound bites. Writers, I believe, are entrusted with the sacred task of being the keeper of stories, the full and rich stories that connect us all.

I haven’t read the latest talked about writing book whose cover reads “Story Trumps Structure,” but I can tell you that I hate the title. It goes against the grain of what I know in my bones to be true. Hey buddy, I want to say, story IS structure!

[You can read the rest of her post here.]

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What has your novel-writing journey been like so far? 

 

The Last Book On Writing You’ll Ever Have To Read

Screen Shot 2014-10-01 at 12.01.54 AMI met Bestselling Author, Larry in October 2009 through his blog, StoryFix.com. I was a year into my novel writing journey, I had a shitty first draft, a revised shitty first draft and was about to get started on a third shitty draft… ’til I found Larry’s 11-part series on story structure.

It changed my entire life–my writing and my career.

So when Larry announced (back in 2010) that Writer’s Digest was publishing his book, Story Engineering: Mastering the 6 Core Competencies of Successful Writing, I was beyond thrilled.

I have read a lot of books about writing, but this book takes top prize. I consider it to be the novel-writing bible. (That’s why I’ve built all my coaching programs around the knowledge I gained from Larry, and why I give a copy to every client, and recommend it to every fiction writer I meet.)

It’s like Larry has handed you the keys to the writing and publishing kingdom through reading this book. You will finally feel like you know everything you need to know in order to write a successful and sellable novel. And that’s worth everything.

Story Engineering is like getting an MFA in Creative Writing, only it’s even better because it doesn’t cost you two-plus years of your life and upwards of $100,000.

The book is broken down into eight parts:

  • Part One—What Are The Six Core Competencies, and Why Should I Care?
  • Part Two—The First Core Competency: Concept
  • Part Three—The Second Core Competency: Character
  • Part Four—The Third Core Competency: Theme
  • Part Five—The Fourth Core Competency: Story Structure
  • Part Six—The Fifth Core Competency: Scene Execution
  • Part Seven—The Sixth Core Competency: Writing Voice
  • Part Eight—The Story Development Process

How To Read Story Engineering

With so much information to take in, here’s how I recommend you read this book:

  1. First read it all the way through from cover-to-cover, taking in as much information as you can.
  2. Next, use the Table Of Contents (TOC) to jump around and read for clarification. Every page of this book is packed with great information, but that can make it difficult to remember everything. Using the TOC reading method you can refresh yourself on the parts that were unclear or that you just needed to spend additional time taking in.
  3. Keep Story Engineering by your writing area and pull it out whenever you need a refresher or just a confidence boost (as this book will surely make you feel like you know everything it takes to write a novel that works).
  4. Read it all the way through once a year, as a refresher

This book fills in all the holes and gaps the classes, workshops and other books you’ve read left behind.

If you don’t already own Story Engineering, you need to own it pronto! Think of it as an investment in your future success as a writer. And for the price of $15 (on Amazon) it’s a bargain.

And if you want to hear even more about Story Engineering, check out this video interview blogger Joanna Penn did with Larry on his new book.

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How did Story Engineering change things for you? Share in the comments.

The Final Piece of Information Your Story Needs

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

Story structure is the skeleton of your story; it’s the backbone that holds the entire thing together.

So here we are.

We’ve reached the final piece of structure on the storytelling road–the Second Plot Point (SPP).

All’s said and done after this moment in your story.

The Second Plot Point

The Second Plot Point, according to Larry Brooks of StoryFix.com, is: “the final injection of new information into the story, after which no new expository information may enter the story, and which puts a final piece of narrative information in play that gives the hero everything she or he needs to become the primary catalyst in the story’s conclusion.”

That means whatever shows up in the story after this moment must have already been in play, set up or foreshadowed.

This is a big moment in your story–it’s the final catalyst that transitions the Protagonist from part three “Attack” mode into part four “Resolution” mode. It’s the moment when the Protagonist becomes the Martyr, willing to do whatever it takes to solve the problem at hand and defeat the antagonist.

Brooks covered this in his blog post:

I’m gonna send you over to StoryFix.com now to read more about the Second Plot Point. Then be sure to come back here for some SPP examples.

Second Plot Point Examples

It’s hard to give specific Second Plot Point examples (as Larry mentioned in his blog post) because the SPP can literally be almost anything. So I’m gonna give ya one  specific example, and then a few generic examples, just to give you an idea of how the SPP works.

In the movie, Safe Haven, the protagonist, Katie, is running from a dark past. That past finally catches up to her at the SPP.

The SPP shows up in a dream–Katie falls asleep and dreams of her friend, Jo. Jo leaves Katie with a warning, “He’s here.” Katie replies, “Who is?” And Jo adds, “You know who.”

When Katie awakens, we’ve officially been transitioned into Part Four of the story. She now has all the information needed to resolve the story and secure the title of “Hero.”

There are a million possibilities for the SPP, some of which could be:

  • In a thriller, it’s when the chase scene starts
  • In a romance, it’s when the protagonist realizes he’s in love with the girl and must now do everything in his power to win her back
  • In a mystery, it’s when the final clue is dropped, causing the protagonist to have all the details needed to solve the puzzle

The SPP is the fuel that propels the Protagonist forward for the final time in the story.

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Now that you’ve gotten the full run down of story structure–how will you use this information to write better stories?

Image courtesy of Robert Huffstutter

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.

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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

The Moment In Your Story That Changes Everything

This is part two in a four-part series on story structure. You can read part one here. To learn more about story structure, be sure to sign up to receive a free copy of the eBook, How To Write Better Stories

There’s a moment in every story (or at least there should be!) where the protagonist is heading in one direction…and then everything changes.

New information has entered the picture. There’s been a “parting of the curtain” (in Larry Brooks speak). Suddenly things aren’t what they seemed even a moment before.

Now that’s powerful. And it’s also the job of this next piece of story structure: the Midpoint.

The Midpoint

The Midpoint is a plot point that happens smack-dab in the middle of the story, at the 50 percent mark. It introduces new and vital information–and it’s also the moment that shifts the context of the story.

It’s the catalyst that takes your protagonist from part two of the story (where he’s in “reaction mode”) to part three of the story, where he’s ready to start attacking.

Again, just like the First Plot Point, Larry Brooks, bestselling author of Story Engineering, has written a very detailed post about the Midpoint and what it’s all about. So head on over to his site, StoryFix.com, and read:

Then come back here for some Midpoint examples.

Breaking Down the Midpoint: Two Examples

Examples are the best way to really wrap your head around this story milestone and the significance it plays in every great story. So here are two Midpoint examples from movies:

Ian

Cameron Diaz plays Christina in The Sweetest Thing

The Sweetest Thing

In this movie we meet Christina (the protagonist), a party girl who just wants to have fun. Her and her friends are partying at a club one night when she meets Peter, a handsome real estate agent. At first they don’t get along, but then as the night progresses we see them getting to know and like each other.

Then we find out Peter is at the club celebrating a bachelor party for his brother, who’s getting married that weekend in Somerset.

The Midpoint happens after Christina and her friend arrive in Somerset where they’ve secretly followed Peter. They sneak into the church–late–for the wedding. They figure they’ll hang out, watch the ceremony and then find Peter at the reception.

But the context of the entire movie is shifted at the Midpoint–when we find out it’s actually Peter’s wedding.

Before this moment the story was heading down one path, but now it’s on a completely different path. That’s what the Midpoint does.

Paul Sherwood

Bill Murray plays Bob in What About Bob? [Image courtesy of Paul Sherwood]

What About Bob?

In this movie we meet Dr. Marvin, an up-and-coming psychologist who has a new book out. Things are going well for him, until he gets introduced to a new patient named Bob.

Suddenly Bob has started showing up everywhere, including on Dr. Marvin’s family vacation, driving him nuts!

The Midpoint happens when Dr. Marvin has his Good Morning America interview–Bob pretty much takes over the interview and ruins everything.

After that moment, we see the Doctor shift into part three of the story, which is “attack mode.”

Without a Midpoint in place to shift your story, you won’t have the catalyst needed to push your protagonist from being a “wanderer” to being a “warrior” (more on this soon).

But that’s not the last stop on the plot point trail. There’s still one more major milestone that has to happen in your story (plus two smaller milestones that need to occur). Up next in this series: Pinch Points, what they are and how to use them.

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What are your thoughts on the Midpoint? Have you noticed it in movies or books that you’ve watched/read? 

Image of Bill Murray courtesy of Paul Sherwood

Image of Cameron Diaz courtesy of Ian

Image of Midpoint Cafe sign courtesy of Peer Lawther