So far in this series we took a peek at the ending and loosely decided on a resolution for our story, which also allowed for us to view what our character would look like and how he would act. Then we jumped from the ending to the beginning and established the hook to our story, and since we had the ending in mind, that allowed us to start with a character opposite of what we viewed in the ending.
Example: Harry Potter lives under the stairs in the beginning, and then Harry Potter the wizard defeats Voldemort in the end.
After plotting the beginning we moved onto the first plot point, which set our hero on his journey — Harry Potter finds out he, is a wizard and goes to Hogwarts to learn magic. From the first plot point, our hero really didn’t have any direction and everything he did seemed to be reactionary to the event that happened at the first plot point. However, the midpoint changed your hero from reactionary to action, and sent him actively pursuing his story goal.
Example: Harry witnesses Voldemort drinking a unicorn’s blood and vows to protect the Philosopher’s Stone so Voldemort couldn’t get it and come back into power.
All that leads us up to here; the second plot point. This point, although big in the structure of our story and is considered one of three major tent poles in our story, the punch it delivers is not on the same scale as the first plot point.
Topics covered in today’s post.
- What is the second plot point?
- Where does it go in my story?
In addition, of course I will be providing examples from famous works of fiction to illustrate how to use it properly.
What is the second plot point?
The second plot point is the point in your story where everything seems to come together for your character. The last tidbit of information he needed is exposed that shuttles him into the battle against your villain in the resolution.
Just like the first plot point moved your story to the midpoint, and the midpoint moved your story to the second plot point, the second plot moves your story to the resolution — or ending.
At the midpoint, you determine to do something, and in the resolution you do it, so the second plot point is where you obtain the final thing you need to make it happen. ~ Dan Wells
Star Wars example:
Luke finds out he has the force and needs to use it if he is going to defeat the Death Star.
Harry Potter example:
Harry discovers the stone is in his pocket because his motives are pure, and in turn is able to defeat Voldemort.
In K.M. Weiland’s blog, Helping Writers Become Authors, she gave a few more examples of second plot points in fiction.
The Hunger Games:
For the first time in history, two contestants can win if they’re both from the same district, which then prompts Katniss to find Peeta.
Bruce Wayne, after his house is set on fire and is left to die, decides to take action and use the train as a way to defeat Ra’s Al Ghul before he can use the sewer system to spread the chemical all throughout Gotham.
In culmination, the second plot point is a main driving force behind your character reaching the resolution of your story.
Where does it go in my story?
As a recap, let’s go over the different points in your story structure and where they fall within that structure.
- The Hook — ASAP; should not happen after the one/8th mark of your story.
- The First Plot Point — 20% to 25% into your story.
- Midpoint — 50% mark.
- Second Plot Point — 75% mark.
As described in a previous post I described that this story structure falls into an overarching structure known as the four-part structure. Let’s look at the four parts below.
- Part 1 — Hook to First Plot Point
- Part 2 — First Plot Point to Midpoint
- Part 3 — Midpoint to Second Plot Point
- Part 4 — Second Plot Point to Resolution
This structure can also be applied to the Three-Act Structure that has been around for centuries:
- Act 1 — Beginning; Hook to First Plot Point
- Act 2 — Middle; First Plot Point through Second Plot Point
- Act 3 — End; Second Plot Point through Resolution
When you use apply the three-act structure you can see the middle — Act 2 — contains many pages within it, and is why it is referred to as the sagging middle. The four-part structure helps alleviate the feeling of the middle sagging by focusing on each part and making sure there is a main point happening in each section.
Second Plot Point happens at the 75% mark of your story.
This post is Part 5 in a series entitled, Seven Points to Structure Your Story. You can find previous parts to this series below.