Story Structure: Realization

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

Welcome back! Last week, we talked about the First Pinch Point and its function in a story. This week, we’re discussing the Realization, one of the most important sections in any given story.

Let’s jump into this!

Where Does the Realization Belong?

The Realization begins after the First Pinch Point — near the 37% mark — and ends right around the Midpoint (i.e., 50% into the story).

What is the Realization?

The Realization is a crucial beat in storytelling. The Realization is what prepares the protagonist for the Midpoint. It also leads up the Midpoint. If the protagonist has to be somewhere or something has to happen before the Midpoint, it’s the Realization’s job to fill those plot needs.

During the Realization, the protagonist grows in awareness, figuring out the conflict and getting ready (possibly unknowingly) to respond to it in a non reactionary way.

The Realization is Preparation

As we’ve discussed previously, the protagonist isn’t ready for the Third Act — not yet. Typically, it’s the job of the plot to mold them into someone who is ready, and the Realization plays a big part in that process.

During the Realization, the protagonist usually acclimates to their world, grows as a person, and comes to understands the main conflict better.

Often, other characters will be crucial to their growth. Mentors or love interests might teach them things or inspire them to change.

It is during the Realization that the protagonist takes large steps toward understanding the theme of the story. In the beginning, they were firmly entrenched in a “lie” that was stopping them from achieving their full potential.

By the end of the Realization, they should be closer to understanding the “truth” that will replace their “lie”. They won’t be ready for the Third Act, but they’ll be much closer than they were.

(SPOILERS FOR STAR WARS: A NEW HOPE AHEAD)

During the Realization, Luke and Obi-Wan head to Alderaan with Han Solo. Luke continues to learn more about the Force and the ways of the Jedi. All this prepares him for the coming Midpoint (discovering that Alderaan has been destroyed and being captured by the Death Star) and inspires him to become an “action hero” and rescue Leia later on.

Luke hasn’t fully come into his heroic self yet, but he’s closer than he was.

(END SPOILERS)

Use your story’s Realization to get your protagonist ready to make the right choices in the Midpoint.

The Realization is Lead Up

The Realization also moves the plot and characters to where they need to be for the Midpoint. Whatever still needs to be set up or foreshadowed for the second half of the Second Act or for the Third Act should be handled during this story beat.

Villainous plans may move forward, love stories might progress, character relationships could deepen, etc. Anything needing development that might bog down the action later can be taken care of now.

(SPOILERS FOR TANGLED AHEAD)

In Tangled’s Realization, Rapunzel and Flynn escape from the guards they encounter at the Snuggly Duckling. During that time, their relationship deepens and their actions lead them to their Midpoint. Everything is set up for their emotional conversation while they’re trapped in the cave.

(END SPOILERS)

Use the Realization to set everything in motion for an engaging Midpoint.

So… What is the Realization?

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