Dan Wells’ Seven-Point Story Structure came from the author’s 2010 BYU presentation. Taking his cue from the Star Trek Roleplaying game Narrator’s Guide, wells utilised the Seven-Point Story Structure as a plotting and outlining tool.
There’s an episode of the Writing Excuses podcast in which Wells explains the seven-point structure.
The seven points in Wells’s structure are:
The Hook: a compelling introduction to the characters and setting.
Plot Turn 1: an inciting incident that propels the protagonist to adventure.
Pinch-point 1: raises the stakes with the introduction of the antagonist or major conflict.
Midpoint: a turning point where the protagonist goes from reaction to action.
Pinch-point 2: facing defeat, all seems lost for the protagonist.
Plot Turn 2: the protagonist learns some truth on the way to a fightback.
Resolution: the protagonist defeats the antagonist to resolve the conflict
There’s a recommended order in which you write down the events in the Seven-Point Story Structure:
- Plot turn 1
- Plot turn 2
- Pinch point 1
- Pinch point 2
This is effectively a reverse-outlining method practiced by any number of authors including E. A. Deverill. You can use it to test your story idea:
- Does the ending work?
- What’s the hook that draws the reader in
- Where are the characters at the mid-point?
- Work up the turning points and plot points to get a feel for rising and falling action.
Although Wells lifted this from a Star Trek RPG, this structure was originally developed by Syd Field in his book Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting.
It’s not the only seven-point story structure in use. Joe Nasisse has a version and Freytag’s Pyramid does something similar.