Welcome back, y’all! Last week, we talked about the Build Up in three act story structure. This week, we’re examining the First Plot Point.
Let’s get into this!
Where Does the First Plot Point Belong?
The First Plot Point usually falls at the 25% mark of the story — right at the end of the First Act.
What is the First Plot Point?
The First Plot Point is the end of First Act. All your hard work is about to pay off as you catapult your protagonist into the Second Act. This story beat also signals the end of the normal world — the life your protagonist knows is changed forever. The First Plot Point is also a decision on the protagonist’s part to begin their journey and leave behind their familiar world.
The First Plot Point is the End
All your Set Up and Build Up (or most of it) comes to fruition when your protagonist reaches the First Plot Point. Everything has been leading to the moment where they leave their normal world and embark on a life changing journey (literally or metaphorically).
(SPOILERS FOR STAR WARS: A NEW HOPE)
For example, the First Plot Point in A New Hope (bet you’re sick of talking about this movie) is Luke deciding to go with Obi-Wan to Alderaan. As we discussed last week, everything built to the moment where Luke leaves his normal world — Leia’s message, the droids coming to Luke’s farm, Artoo running away, and the Empire tracking the droids. This is when all of that comes to a head, signals the end of the First Act, and pushes Luke into the Second Act.
The First Plot Point is the Beginning
I know, I know. I just said it was the end. Bear with me — I’m trying to be stylistic. Is it working?
Anyway, the First Plot Point basically marks the beginning of the Second Act. It’s where we leave the normal world behind and enter a new, exciting world that the protagonist will occupy for most or all of the story.
This leaving of the “normal world” should be very clear. While it might not always be a physical departure, there should be a definite shift from the ordinary to the “extraordinary”. Usually, the new world is one of the reasons the reader picked up your book, so make sure they know when they reach it.
(SPOILERS FOR TANGLED)
Tangled’s First Plot Point occurs when Rapunzel makes the decision to have Flynn take her to see the “floating lights”. Rapunzel physically leaves her normal world, escaping from her tower and embarking on her journey.
Your character won’t always go on a literal journey, but the departure from their static life into their dynamic one should be clear and exciting regardless.
The First Plot Point is a Decision
At the First Plot Point, your protagonist usually makes the decision to step into their new world (getting real tired of that phrase — how about you?) and begin their journey. Sometimes they’re forced into this decision by circumstances, and sometimes they make it more of their own volition.
This is an important moment in your protagonist’s arc. They don’t have it all together yet. They’re certainly still clinging to their wrong beliefs, but they’re taking a step forward and leaving their comfort zone.
Be sure to give this moment the weight it deserves and makes sure their decision fits their character.
(SPOILERS FOR TREASURE PLANET)
Jim’s First Plot Point comes when he decides to accompany Dr. Doppler on his journey to find the treasure. Jim’s normal life is irrevocably changed at this point, since his home has been destroyed, but he could still stay home with his mother (this is an example of an independent First Plot Point decision). However, it isn’t in Jim’s character to back down from an adventure, so he boards the ship and inadvertently kicks off his character arc.
So… What is the First Plot Point?
Stay tuned! Next week, we’ll begin our discussion of the Second Act.