Dan Wells’ Seven-Point Story Structure

Dan Wells' Seven-point Story StructureDan 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:

  1. Resolution
  2. Hook
  3. Midpoint
  4. Plot turn 1
  5. Plot turn 2
  6. Pinch point 1
  7. 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.

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