We all know we’re supposed to have plot points and pinches and turns and twists and arcs in our novels, but how are they relevant to internal and external goals?
My preferred quick and dirty overall skeleton is Dan Wells’ seven point system, which runs as follows:
First Plot Point – Around the 25% mark of the novel
Pinch Point One – Around 40% of the way in
Midpoint – Halfway (Else it wouldn’t be the midpoint…)
Pinch Point Two – Around the 60% mark
Second Plot Point – Around the 75% mark
Having established where all these points should come in my pantsed novel, I mapped out where my plot points do fall. It turns out that not only do I have plot and pinch points for the external story but also for the internal story line. My overall story goal was to get my FMC in a place where she is confident in her ability to manage a large demesne (medieval romance), so I needed the various plots and pinches in certain places relevant to this goal. This was difficult, because I wasn’t sure what constituted a plot point. Was it a kiss?
Or was it her enemy invading her home and trying to take it by force?
The first plot point must be a game changer, according to Larry Brooks. It must define the hero’s need and quest going forward. Something, or someone, enters the story and alters the hero’s status.
I struggled with identifying what my first plot point was, until I realised I had two. One for my FMC’s internal need/goal, and one for the external.
It turns out that the kiss is the first plot point for her internal goal because it changes how she thinks. Before, she thought she could resist this guy. After – she knows she can’t resist him and must stay away until she knows how to resist him.
The invasion is the first plot point for the external goal – which is for her to manage the demesne alone, without the need to get married again (we’re talking medieval, here, remember!). This invasion alters her status by establishing that she needs help. The question then becomes – from where should she seek help?
The same happened for the pinch points and midpoint. They all occurred roughly at the right times, give or take ten pages or so. When I was done, I had mapped out all the points for both her internal and her external goals!
For anyone reading this, my comments might be a ‘duh, you twit, didn’t you know that’ moment, but I wasn’t aware of this, and now I am, I am determined to add this to my next novel to give it greater depth.