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Story Structure, parts of the story Part one.
by C. Michelle Jefferies
Original information by Larry Brooks storyfix.com
Writing a book is a lot like baking muffins. You have flour, sugar, eggs, oil,
and leavening. Leave out one of these things or put them in the wrong
amounts or at the wrong time and your muffins are ruined. If you follow
the recipe you are hopefully making some delicious muffins or stories.
So the following list is the parts of the story and where they occur. Each
part is approximately 1/4 of the book. They can be longer or shorter, but it's
generally a good guideline.
• Introduction - Beginning to Plot Point 1
Characters ordinary life, setting established
(Within the first chapters you need to give the reader a clue as to the conflict and
character arc of the rest of the story. I call this moment the introduction of theme.
Others call it the hook. If the reader doesn’t feel a connection to the story or
characters in the first pages they will most likely put the book down.)
• Reactive Stage - Plot Point 1 to Mid Point
“What the heck happened?”
(plot point one is the inciting incident, the moment that makes your character begin to
move. The reactive stage is what the MC is doing in reaction to that point of
movement. All of your scenes must reflect the reaction, and "not having a clear
plan of action yet" part of the story.)
• Active Stage - Mid Point to Plot Point 2
“Not on my watch!” (or "oh no you didn't just point that gun at me." )
(Mid point is the moment where the MC changes from being the victim of the story to
being the hero. The next stage is the active stage where the protagonist, or
antagonist is pushing the plot forward to the climax of the story. Your plotting and
scenes must reflect that ideal.)
• Resolution - Plot Point 2 to End of Book
Coming home, tie up all ends
(In a stand alone, all major character arc's, plot problems, and conflict must be
wrapped up in a manner satisfactory to the reader. A few loose ends may be left
undone to make the reader think, but they must be small and insignificant in
regards to the main plot and arc's. In a series, all of the plot, character arc's and
conflict that is pertinent to that books arc must be tied up. However, you can leave
over series plot, character arc, and conflict open. If a character is leaving the
series, their arc must be resolved. If a new character is being introduced, their arc
must be presented. If the antagonistic force in the book is unique to that book, it
must be resolved. If the antagonistic arc is series wide it can be left unfinished but
should be addressed and the stakes and risks should be increased. )
In addition to the plot parts of the story there is a notion that your MC can go through
character arc traits that describe some of the what and why of the characters
progress throughout the story. Below is a list of the character parts as they relate
to the plot parts.
This list is from the author and book: Carol S. Pearson The Hero Within: Six Archetypes We Live By
Lacks direction, lives in ordinary world
Reacting to PP1, moving but no plan
Reacting to MP, has clear plan, building to PP2
PP2 and beyond, willing to sacrifice, becomes hero
One thing to note, the main plot conflict should be resolved right around plot point 2 or the moment
when the MC and the plot move from reaction stage, to resolution stage. Don't put the conflict
and the character change in the middle of the resolution stage. The reader will most likely be dissatisfied with the end of the book and you don’t want that.
Plot Points in Story Structure Part 2
• by C. Michelle Jefferies
Original material by Larry Brooks storyfix.com
Today we're going to talk about plot points.
Plot points are the defining moments in the story.
They are supposed to happen at the quarter marks in
the story, IE PP1 at 1/4th the way into the story.
However if they don't happen at exactly the proposed time or
aren't just one scene, that's okay. I myself tend to have really
short resolution stages and long mid points.
The first point in the story is called the hook.
Happens early in the story, preferably the first few chapters.
• Gives the reader some clue as to the conflict later in the story.
• Provides some action or conflict in the introduction part of the story.
The next point is called Plot Point 1. It happens at 1/4 the way through the
story. It begins the reaction stage of the story, and the wanderer character
Most important part of your story.
• The MC’s call to action, or event that starts everything moving.
• The true introduction of the conflict.
• After this point the MC or Hero’s life can never be the same.
• Can be external or internal.
• Doesn’t have to be dark and earth shattering.
• An essential element of Structure are Pinch Points.
Are a reminder of the conflict and bad guy throughout the story.
• Should happen at least once half way between PP1 and MP and once between
MP and PP2.
• Can be sprinkled throughout the story. Deepens the conflict, and raises the stakes.
The next Point is Mid Point, it is crucial to a good story. It marks the middle of the
book and heralds in the active stage for the characters. This is where your
character goes from wanderer to warrior.
• Can be a huge unexpected twist in the story leaving the characters and reader shocked, or
something so subtle the MC doesn’t even know that things have changed. (but reader does)
• New information that changes the experience and understanding of the MC,
the reader or both.
• Changes the MC from reactive stage to active stage
• Prevents the “sagging middle”
The last plot point is Plot Point 2, it happens at about 3/4 through the book and is
where things wrap up and we move from active stage to resolution stage and
where the character goes from warrior to martyr.
• The climax of the story. “The final car chase scene.”
• New information or something happens that takes the MC toward the
conclusion of the story.
• The story shifts into resolution mode.
• No new info, or characters after this point
Which brings us to the resolution, in the Resolution we must:
• Hero must emerge and MC engages as the primary catalyst.
• Hero must conquer their inner demons and show personal growth.
• Ending of book should resonate with the readers.
• In a stand alone all major loose ends must be tied up.
• In a series only the book specific ends must be resolved, should leave some
ends unfinished leading into the next book.
I have drawn this out in a diagram. I hope this translates well.
Red, parts of story
Orange, character parts
Green, plot points.
Introduction ______Reactive _________ Active _______ Resolution
Orphan _________Wanderer_________Warrior _______ Martyr
Plot Point 1 _________Mid Point _______ Plot Point 2
(Represented by ^)
Pinch Point 1________Pinch Point 2 (represented by *)
This is the worksheet I use to establish the structure on all my stories. I hope it can work for you.
Part one - Introduction:
Plot Point #1:
Part two - Reactive Stage:
Pinch Point #1:
Part three - Proactive Stage:
Pinch Point #2:
Plot Point #2:
Part four - Resolution: