Story Structure: The First Plot Point

Photo by James Wheeler on Pexels.com

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.

(END SPOILERS)

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.

(END SPOILERS)

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.

(END SPOILERS)

So… What is the First Plot Point?

Stay tuned! Next week, we’ll begin our discussion of the Second Act.

4 thoughts on “Story Structure: The First Plot Point

  1. Some stories can’t be written in this format, period (for one thing, I don’t know how it works at all if one is writing a novella; in my novella The Gifts of Faeri (available for free as Ebook, PDF on my blog, or for $2.99 in Paperback) it starts with – well, it’s hard to describe, but the main character already isn’t part of a ‘boring, ordinary world’; she’s already got a developed and very unique power, and is the rider of a rare and powerful kind of dragon, but it starts with an episode that makes the world even stranger and more frightening for her and forces some kind of decision or response – but I think the “event” that would qualify as this in DragonBirth is actually about that far in, and I really don’t know about Children of the Dryads (coming later this year). But I don’t know how I would ever write if I thought about these things while writing.

    Also, to touch on an earlier post, I tend to be largely oblivious to ‘hooks’, whether I am reading or writing… unless there is just way too much ‘hook’ in which case it puts me off (often by boring me… surprising, isn’t it?); but mostly I don’t even notice when/if/where there’s a ‘hook’. I think these kinds of things… I just don’t notice them, reading or writing, at least not in a conscious or deliberate way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your novels/novellas sound really interesting! I agree not every story fits in the three act format perfectly or at all.

      I get what you mean about obvious hooks, although I’m not sure if they bore me they same way they bore you.

      I’m definitely not an instinctive writer like some awesome people are. I’m need story structure hahah, but it’s so cool that you don’t/don’t want it! Thank you for reading! =D

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create your website with WordPress.com
Get started
%d bloggers like this: