CPR and Life Support for Your Part 2 Story Segment

has written 623 posts on Storyfix.com.

You can follow Larry on Twitter, or Google+.

Email the author

by Larry Brooks on December 18, 2012

Or… “How To Give Your Story a Better Middle” 

Get ready to go deep.

This story structure stuff is hard.  It’s also the key to getting your story published.  So we must accept hard, and step into it with keen hunger for a competitive edge.

Hard, because it’s like throwing a ball or singing a song.  Anybody can do it.  Few do it well enough to get paid for it.

Hard, because the difference between good and great is a mushy, less than precise pair of variables called context and nuance.

Context… being one of the most layered, complex and empowering of all the tools in the writer’s quiver.  Nuance… being an evolved sensibility that is the outcome of combining those basics with that context.

A mouthful, granted… but work with it.  Because the key to everything is in there.

Today I had the opportunity to go deep into this issue – both context and nuance – with one of my story coaching clients. I’d analyzed his story plan, and my feedback landed on his Part 2 quartile (which follows the all-important First Plot Point, leading up to the story’s Mid-Point), telling him it felt flat and contextually off.

He wrote back stating (I paraphrase): “But Larry, in your book you say that Part 2 is when the hero should be RESPONDING to something.  And that the First Plot Point CHANGES the story.  My story does that.  He responds to that change in the story.   So I’m confused… can you explain?”

In that explanation I realized how important this particular issue is.  Because at a glance, they are one thing – the story changes, the hero responds – but under the harsh light of analysis, and in the hands of a master storyteller, there is so much more to it.  More enough to be something else entirely.

In short… if your First Plot Point is off, your Part 2 doesn’t stand a  chance.  Which is why – I say again – that FPP is the most important moment in your story.

Here’s the easy – the surface – interpretation:

The First Plot Point does indeed change the story. It launches the core story spine, in that it initiates the hero’s story-quest (key nuance here: story-quest is different than life-quest), by igniting or shifting the hero’s current life plan and direction, giving her/him a problem to solve, a goal to strive for, a quest to embark upon, a battle to fight, or whatever twist on these notions fits your story.

Getting a new job changes your life.  But only when you realize that you must change to keep the job does that shift ignite a near-term story-quest.  A subtle but critical differentiation.  The latter launches a journey.  A story.  The former only serves to set-up that journey.  A non-writer might shrug and call that semantics… but as a writer, you need to know and command the context and nuance of that differentiation.

The contextual mission of your Part 2 scenes is to show what your hero does next.  How she/he RESPONDS to this new direction, this sudden or shifted quest.  RESPONSE is the target context of your Part 2 scenes. Your hero becomes, in essence, a wanderer (drifting through choices and options)… a victim (they can’t yet fight back with any success)… a flailing and desperate example of prey (things just keep getting worse for them).

Here’s the scary part: You can get all that right… and still end up with a story that doesn’t work.  What’s next explains why.  And it has everything to do with the nature of, and the relationship between, the First Plot Point and the Part 2 scenes that follow it.

Get the first one wrong, and the other is stranded without a compass.

What will make the First Plot Point work:

If your First Plot Point changes the story (which it should), even significantly, but does not launch your hero down a new or shifted path, facing a problem or the pursuit of a goal, with obstacles and antagonism in play, and clear stakes hanging in the balance… if those requisite pieces aren’t there, then chances are your “Big Story Change Moment” was really an Inciting Incident.

And if that happens, your Part 2 scenes are screwed.

Because the primary contextual mission of the First Plot Point is to imbue the story with those newly ignited layers: problem, goal, quest, opposition, stakes and a narrative journey that combines them into a dramatic sequence.

This can be tough to nail down.  It demands that the author know what the CORE STORY is, and that right there at the FPP is where THAT is launched.

An example: the core story is about a man whose wife and children have been kidnapped.  Our hero is instructed to rob his own bank, where is the branch manager, and bring back the money without alerting the authorities, or bad things will happen.  A thriller.  With a problem, a goal, opposition, and something for the hero to DO about it.

But… the core story isn’t the kidnapping.  The core story here is how he responds to the journey placed before him – robbing his bank, keeping the kidnapper from doing bad things, and to create an outcome from all that.

The kidnapping, as huge a change as it represents, isn’t the First Plot Point here.  Because it has no story-defining meaning yet.  The hero has no idea what he must do… which IS the core story.

It’s an easy mistake to make: have the kidnapping BE the FPP.  But if the First Plot Point was simply to show the family kidnapping… yes, that may technically change the story… how can the hero react fully to just that?  No story is on the table yet.  If you made that mistake, you would find yourself continuing to set-up this story well into Part 2, resulting in a flawed, unbalanced structure that takes too long to find its wings and its pace.

The kidnapping here is an Inciting Incident, a key part of the setup of the story (meaning, it should be prior to the FPP in the latter stages of Part 1).

The optimal First Plot Point, then, should be the moment when his story-mission, his new quest, his highest level of problem, the newly hatched goal… when all of that hits the page, then that is the FPP.  Appearing after the kidnapping/Inciting Incident.  That is what launches the core story, and thus, is the FPP in this story.

Why is this important?  Because the placement of the FPP is critical.  Too early and the setup is thin.  Too late and the story launches too late.  The FPP has a target optimal location: the 20th to 25th percentile.  If you select the wrong story beat for your FPP, then the better/best FPP will be in the wrong place.

Which can kill the whole thing in the eyes of an agent or a publisher.  They won’t tell you: “Sorry, your first plot point is off target” – they don’t think that way, even though you need to – but they will say, “things got slow, it takes too long for anything to happen, the story is too internal for too long, not thrilling enough.”

Bottom line: It’s easy to insert what is actually an Inciting Incident at the intersection of Parts 1 and 2, simply because the story changes, and call it your FPP.  But in that instance, your FPP won’t be good enough.  Change, without core-story-launching meaning, isn’t enough to fulfill the mission of the FPP.

What will make your Part 2 scenes work:

Two things: First, a properly empowered First Plot Point.  Because that defines everything that happens in Part 2.  Get the FPP wrong, your Part 2 scenes won’t be what they should be.  Then, be careful how you define and implement the contextual mission of your Part 2 scenes, relative to the mission of RESPONSE.  This is where nuance comes into play.

There is passive response… and there is active response.  The first is usually mistake, at least if it lasts too long… the second is what jacks up the tension and pace of your story.

I see this one a lot in my story coaching work.  A First Plot Point is in place.  Maybe it’s solid, maybe it’s more of an Inciting Incident.  Either way, too often I see a protagonist who, in the intended context of responding in Part 2, simply does nothing at all.

The story has indeed changed.  Which means the hero’s situation and experience of each ensuing moment has changed with it.  If your hero sits there and simple notices it all… that’s not a good Part 2.

The mistake here is to simply show/describe the new story world, the new environment, the sudden change in the hero’s near-term life… all that the hero now exists within… without having the hero DO anything as part of her/his response to it.

Example: our bank manager gets the news about having to rob his bank in order to save his family.  He goes to work, is quiet that day.  Can’t call the cops.  Can’t say anything.  Can’t get any work done.

We see that situation and this dark new environment… scene after scene.

And nothing happens.  The guy DOES nothing.  He’s frozen with fear.

It’s even worse if the author made the mistake of having the FPP be the kidnapping, without the ensuing instructions for the hero.  Part 2 then becomes an extension of the Part 1 setup, causing the core story to delay in its launch… which is bad.

The author thinks – because they understand the contextual mission of Part 2 only at a surface level – that the hero shouldn’t really do anything.  So we get 10 to 15 scenes where his fear and his helplessness is front and center… but nothing happens.

Fleeing is doing.  Swinging back is doing.  Begging for your life is doing.  Going to the cops is doing.  But thinking about it all, observing the darkness around you… that’s not doing anything.

You get one or scenes of that at the most before your story suffers for it.  Even then, the story has been put on hold.  Frozen. The author’s finger is on the Pause button.

A better Part 2 might show a quickly passing period of this frozen shock and awe, but then the hero must RESPOND to his new situation.  He must DO something.  And because this is only Part 2, where he shouldn’t yet be overtly heroic or successful in what he tries, these well-intended actions and decisions don’t work.  Even running away – which is doing something – doesn’t solve anything.

The hero’s moves in an effective Part 2 should serve to deepen and complicate the problem.

Because while it’s true that in Part 2 the hero is RESPONDING and REACTING… it’s also true – here’s the empowering part – that the TENSION and PACE of the story should be INCREASING here… things are getting more dire, more urgent, more complex… through the sequence of these Part 2 scenes.

Again, none of this works if the First Plot Point itself isn’t sufficiently expositional and clearly the launch of a quest for the hero. If all it does is change the story.  If the FPP isn’t strong, the hero is responding to things that are actually still part of the story’s setup context… meaning your core story won’t launch until the Mid-Point arrives… which is WAAAYYY too late.

From the 101 to the 404

There it is.   The 101 class introduces you to the First Plot Point and the contextual mission of all four parts of your story.  But what seems obvious and easy here… isn’t.  There is much more depth and layering to both of those definitions.

The 404, where the professional author must operate, is all about a deeper context and nuance.  The hero faces a newly shifted near-term story-journey… a problem or a goal has been put into play, even if not yet fully defined… a pathway opens up, sometimes forced upon the hero… there are obstacles in the way and a lurking, manipulating antagonist with opposing goals and a selfish moral compass… and there significant stakes hanging in the balance.

What the hero DOES will define the consequences for both she/he and the antagonist blocking their path toward the goal.

These are the tools.  The sensibilities.  The 404.

The outcome of the work they do are what makes a story powerful… or not.  They shape the story physics that will result in a desired reader response: a compelling premise… dramatic tension… optimal pacing… empathy for the hero that results in rooting for the hero… a vicarious experience for the reader… and a narrative strategy that puts in all into play with – wait for it – empowered context and artful nuance.

*****

Need a little more 101 before this 404 level of execution works for you?  Check out my book, “Story Engineering,” and my new book, “Story Physics” (June 2013).  Or feel free to use the Search function at the right of this column.

*****

Story Coaching:

For $35 – “The Conceptual Kick-Start Story Analysis.”  Make sure your Square One opens the right doors to the potential for powerful story physics.

For  $100 – “The Amazing $100 Story Coaching and Empowerment Experience.”  The highest value story feedback opportunity… ever.

For $400 — NEW: The First Quartile Analysis program (your Part 1, up through your First Plot Point… 100 pages maximum, same basic Questionnaire format used in the $100 level analysis, applied to your executed Part 1 scenes).  Those first 100 pages are the most critical in your story… get this right and the rest will be empowered to work.

For $1500)… I will do a Full Manuscript analysis of your novel or screenplay, with in-depth feedback against a 12-point criteria-based framework (the Six Core Competencies, and the Six Realms of Story Physics).

Use Paypal to get started (payee: storyfixer@gmail.com, or email me if you’d like an invoice first (which doesn’t require a Paypal account and will enable your credit card for payment).

*****

 

 

 

 

 

{ 19 comments }

Lin Barrett December 18, 2012 at 5:25 pm

If ever I do get published, it’s going to be largely your doing, Mr. Brooks.

Realized while reading this that my FPP was, indeed, the Inciting Incident: even though it contains many fewer ka-booms and isn’t nearly as exciting as the Inc.Inc., the FPP is when my hero accepts a challenge he himself doesn’t think he’s up for: and he’s handed that challenge not so much by but because of the kabooms in the Inc.Inc. And I would not have had that insight, and begun to understand a little better than I had before how the parts work together, if you had not written this post.

So thanks, Larry. I owe you one … or more likely, at this point, about 6,793.

Larry Brooks December 18, 2012 at 5:42 pm

@Lin — you’re welcome. I have high hopes for this post… if people get it like you got it, it’s a game changer, because this issue truly is the dividing line between professional storytelling and aspiring storytellers. It’s all upside from here, Lin, I wish you great success! Larry

Rachel December 19, 2012 at 8:09 am

Larry, I think I’m addicted to story structure. It’s fascinating to look at my favorite authors and see how they’ve put things together to make it work.

I’ve been doing some story deconstruction on my own, to get a better understanding of how the whole thing works, especially the FPP. Here’s one thing that might help understand it better (though it really is just saying what you said in different words):

Writers tend to think that the FPP can be something that “happened” to their character. This can never be so, because the plot line is just a catalyst. Your plot line can be interesting as heck, but what really matters is how your protagonist reacts to the new information.

Here’s an example from The Shining (Stephen King): You might have thought that the whole story is about the Overlook Hotel, and how Jack’s family is haunted/attacked by it.

But that’s not the story at all. Yes, we all know the Overlook is driving Jack insane, but the core story is how Jack chooses to respond to the hotel’s influence. Does he give in, and let his anger get the best of him? Or he does he fight it, try and control himself, and take responsibility for his actions?

In Scene 14- which is exactly where the FPP should be, percentage wise, Jack says:

He was getting better. It was possible to graduate from passive to active… And if there was a place where the thing could be done, this was surely it.

King spends the entire scene giving backstory about incidents in Jack’s life where he “suffered” because he let everybody walk all over him.

This is the FPP because Jack has made a decision to be more active, not to let other people ruin his life. But he doesn’t just make a decision, he acts upon it – as an antagonist must. In the next scene, his response to it is to act like the perfect family man (something he’s never been), almost like a scene right out of Father Knows Best.

But here’s the catch – and King plays this scene beautifully with the symbolism of the wasps (which I won’t go into because this is a comment not a post :))- he thinks that what he’s doing is the right thing, but it’s not.

We know this because of what he says at the end of the previous scene: They would pay. They would pay for stinging him. This line is in there to show us that even though he thinks he’s doing the right thing, he’s doing exactly what the Hotel wants.

And this is what provides the tension and the buildup of Part 2: he thinks he’s working on his goal of being active instead of passive (through controlling his temper -his inner demon) and being a good father, but it’s only at the Second Plot Point where Jack realizes that he’s been manipulated by the Hotel (when he destroys the snowmobile).

Anyway, sorry this was so long, but hope it helps.
BTW- noticed you did some stuff on your other site. Looks nice.

Nann Dunne December 19, 2012 at 8:49 am

Larry, you have a special talent for depicting the proper target to aim at. I combined some of your descriptions, and the result showed me the bull’s-eye for positioning the FPP and increasing tension and pace:
[If the FPP is in the right place] “things are getting more dire, more urgent, more complex…but then the hero must RESPOND to his new situation. He must DO something… And because this is only Part 2, where he shouldn’t yet be overtly heroic or successful in what he tries, these well-intended actions and decisions don’t work.”

In other words, the character starts DOING but not SUCCEEDING. His success comes along later.

Perfect.

@Lin: I related closely to your line: “even though it contains many fewer ka-booms and isn’t nearly as exciting as the Inc.Inc.” I kept thinking I needed something BIG to happen at the FPP, and that’s not true at all; it can be quite subtle. Thanks for reminding me of that.

@Rachel: I couldn’t find any worthwhile deconstructions anywhere but here at Larry’s site. Maybe Larry would be kind enough to let you post one of yours. I think they’re eminently helpful.

Larry Brooks December 19, 2012 at 8:57 am

@Rachel and Nanne – thanks for your take on this, it’s clarifying and enlightening. So glad you’re here. L.

Bruce H. Johnson December 19, 2012 at 1:02 pm

Oh, my. Things just seem to get more and more complex. From the 4 parts to all the nuances of inciting incident and response.

Well, think of it like a tree. When we were young, we’d look at an apple tree and think, “That is a tree.” When we got into high school science, we learned about all those mechanism of capillary movement, photosynthesis, pollination, and the like. Yeh, we studied it until we got a good handle on it.

Miracles do happen. We now look at that same apple tree and think, “That is a tree.” That knowledge is so much deeper and our appreciation and knowledge of how it fits in to the rest of the world makes that work in school worth while.

Keep at it, folks. Four-part structure, tons of apparent complexity, then it becomes an understood four-part structure.

Go write something great.

John Baxter December 19, 2012 at 9:12 pm

I’m in the queue for my Story Coaching feedback, and I’m looking forward to it, although I expect I will be making major changes to my story. Here’s the thing about Larry. These principles have been true forever in story creation, and his advice is even more true today to meet the expectations of readers and publishers. What Larry has done, and brilliantly I might add, is create a framework and process that is understandable and sensible to enable us to create a story that works. On a structural level. On an emotional level. At this stage, I’m not very good at this. But it is not for lack of information, guidance, and encouragement. It’s because it’s HARD. But, what motivates me, is that I now have the tools and knowledge to create a cohesive, dynamic story. I just need to keep at it, and I will get better at it as the principles and criteria for implementing the core competencies are mastered. My outline is my roadmap, my beat sheet is my travel guide. “Story Engineering” is my itinerary.

Craig December 20, 2012 at 11:53 am

Larry, I get it. I really do. But I have a problem with it, as well. When submitting work to literary agents, there’s often a request for a very small piece of the story (let’s say 1 page, 5 pages, 10 pages, 1 chapter, 3 chapters…it varies) to go along with the query. Needless to say, story engineering necessitates that the first plot point not be contained in this initial submission (since even three chapters won’t make it to the right percentage). For me, this is a hard pill to swallow. Having it all ride on the hook and possibly an inciting incident for that first submission is nerve wracking in the extreme. I suppose this problem can be partially addressed by making clear what the mission-driven context of the story is in the query letter, but at the same time it’s a drag having your work judged pre-first plot point. I guess the hook gets it in the door, and the first plot point (and other factors), sells it. Thanks again for the super post!

Michael December 20, 2012 at 9:04 pm

Hi,
Been a while, but November called. It had my latest book waiting to be written. While I generally agree with the analysis presented, I think something needs to be mentioned here: a fiction story is a logical argument, and the unfolding of the plot is the way the main character resolves that argument (or imbalance if you prefer). Let me explain. The inciting incident is the initial imbalance of the story — the thing that disturbes the main character’s calm, the status quo. In the example above, it could be the kidnapping, or it could be his receiving the ransom demand (a very different story, but still a valid opening argument) with the actual kidnapping being the first plot point. The difference is how the author wants to structure the method by which the main character resolves the imbalance. This is a two-fold decision, with one part being wether the main character changes how he approaches problems or remains steadfast, and the other being the order of the four steps he takes to resolve the argument — learning, understanding, obtaining, and doing. Not necessarily in that order, but each represents one of the four aspects of the full story that have to be addressed for a logical conclusion and BTW, fits nicely into the 4-part story structure.

Don’t think getting the ransom note first is a possible inciting incident? What if the main character is in another country on business, or on a submarine, or on a three-day trip back from the moon when the message is delivered. Then the set-up becomes his inability to contact his family. The first plot point can easily be finding out they’ve been kidnapped. As I said, a different story, but still a valid argument. My point here is to expand the structure, to allow room for getting outside Campbell’s box and looking at other options.

The notion that a main character must change because of the story is a holdover from Campbell’s “The Hero’s Journey.” It doesn’t always hold true. Sometimes the main character’s approach to solving the argument remains the same even as he grows within the story, and the impact character does the changing (the impact character if one exists, presents an alternative world view to the character, that the main character may embrace or ignore). Whichever way the main character grows in the story, he still has to explore and address all four aspects of resolving the initial imbalance.

That’s why some stories resonate inside us and why we can read or watch them over and over again — because they address all four logical avenues and lead to a satisfying, complete solution.

Okay, ’nuff fun. Back to editing my stuff.

Robert Jones December 21, 2012 at 12:04 pm

@Craig

Different people may have different types of experiences. just as different agents may ask for different types of submissions. Let me give you a basic rule of thumb. Others can chime in if they want to.

Getting an agent, or editor, hooked can be an extremely tricky business. Most of the better agents wont ask for sample chapters up front. Yes, I’ve read many writing books that tell you sending sample chapters is quite common, but most aren’t going to read. Agents will not waste their time reading through the many unsolicited chapters they receive. If they find your query letter intrigueing, they will usually request that you send your manuscript. However, even if an agent requests that you send sample pages, if you don’t grab them right away, they usually will not read more than 3-5 pages. If page one is poorly written, many will not even read past that point.

For a novel, generally speaking, you have to hook an agent within those first three pages. And your first page, first paragraph…even your first sentence, had better intrigue by raising questions, or showing an interesting/eccentric character. And by page three, we need to see that character in some type of desperate need, in trouble, or want something very badly. That “want” is usually a life changer, BTW…or possibly could change many lives, vindicate the main character of some past wrong, etc…. And there are usually large obstacles, all due to the antagonist, who has just as strong a reason to want the hero to fail.

This is not the almighty plot point, but it does incite. It means, the fuse has been lit, engines burning, and the ride is ready to begin. In other words, your story needs to hit the ground running. It doesn’t necessarily mean you need big explosions, or your character taking a bullet in the chest in that first scene. Unless you’re writing a character in an established series, the reader needs to get to know your character before they can feel any real emotional impact over something as drastic as your main character getting mortally wounded. But you do need to ignite the flame of promise as early as possible.

For the first time novelist, this is very important. Some published writers may do things differently, but most of us can’t afford not to step on the gas peddle before an agent, or any reader, has time to change their mind.

Side note: most of the more established agents ( such as those based in NYC) will resond very quickly. So quickly, in fact, that you’ll probably feel that they’ve hired someone to open your query, stuff a form/rejection slip into your SASE (or paste it into an email response) and blast it right back you without reading a word…which is altogether probable. This means nothing, except to keep submitting. Also why you constantly hear stories of best selling books being turned down by gazillions of agents who seemingly know nothing.

My first query letter was written for me by the kindness of a well known fiction author, to whom I emailed my first attempt for him to look at. He rewrote and sent it back to me. Every agent that I sent it to turned it down without requesting further pages. If they knew who wrote it, they would probably be embarrassed…well, maybe they’d feel a twinge of red before making some excuse to keep marching forward. But for the first time novelist, you could steal Tom Clancy’s next novel and put your name on it and they wouldn’t bother tonread it. So don’t take rejection personally. It just means you need to keep plugging away until your query lands in the right hands.

And if you’re looking for a reason that the book industry is hurting, this is pretty much at the root of all big business problems today. They’ve cut, squeezed, and refined their time so it is dedicated to making money now…not by nurturing the potential greats of tomorrow. That sort of thinking is no longer considered to be cost effective. And yet we are constantly asking ourselves why so many many fair-to-middling writers get published every year (or worse, clones thereof)?

It’s a lesson in perserverance…that word we hear so often in the form of advice from published writers. There’s good reason it’s flung about so freely :)

Shaun December 21, 2012 at 3:48 pm

It would be great if you could go further into this because this is going over my head. This is kind of confusing.

Ann K December 21, 2012 at 5:09 pm

Larry’s books, and in particular for me, “Story Structure–Demystified,” are full of a-ha, eye-opening, life-changing insights. I have read dozens of books on the topic, and his, along with “Dramatica” and “Save the Cat!” are the best I have found.

Larry’s books were the catalysts that enabled me to finish my first manuscript, a paranormal romance that I wrote just to get a feel for structure. Amazingly enough, I sold it to a top publisher!

Thanks, Larry! The protagonist in my next book will be named Brooks in your honor!

Larry December 21, 2012 at 5:17 pm

@Shawn — can you be more specific, so I can try to help? Are you referring to Robert’s thread, or my post? Thanks – Larry

@Ann — you sure know how to give a guy an early holiday gift… THANK YOU for this feedback, and huge CONGRATS on your success! Keep us posted on the journey, especially when the book launches so we can support you. Awesome! L.

Shaun December 22, 2012 at 8:26 pm

@Larry – I have to retract my statement. I spoke too soon. I think I had to read it a couple times to have it fully digest in my brain. : ) I get overwhelmed with the new ways you have for explaining things. I don’t know if I’m learning something new or if it’s a new take on something old. Or a little bit of both. The whole context and nuance had me freaking out. But once I relaxed and read it again did it make sense. I also freak out when a lot of “interesting words” are used. My vocabulary isn’t exactly large but I am reading more to change that.

What I do find confusing is what you consider the CORE story. How do you know what the CORE story is? Technically, couldn’t the kidnapping Be the FPP? For example. The Hunger Games. I understand Now that it’s the love story but initially I thought it was The Games. As I read, I wrote down what I considered the milestones and when you posted yours, I was totally confused. I was basing mine off The Games aspect when yours was based on the Love Story aspect. Even now, I think both could actually work.

Ruth Fanshaw December 23, 2012 at 7:27 am

Thanks for this post – I think it just helped me to realise at least part of what’s wrong with my part 2: not enough direct opposition from the antagonist. Also, there’s a section where my heroine’s response could do with being a bit more proactive.

Thanks again! :)

Robert Jones December 23, 2012 at 6:33 pm

@Ann

:) CONGRATS :)

Jacques December 26, 2012 at 4:17 am

This was just what i needed for my $100 coach plan i purchased from you Larry. I was struggeling with part 2 RESPONSE. Surprisingly i found their was a REAL/SECRET FPP going on in my story behind the surface of the seemingly existing FPP. I hope you will agree that the secret FPP is the real FPP in my story when i email you back the filled in questionare and synopsis.

Susie February 22, 2013 at 7:53 pm

This is a real newbie question, but we all have to start somewhere. Right? I’ve read Story Structure Demystified and many of the articles here and I’m breaking my story down into all the Parts with the plot points, etc. But, I am confused by whose story this is. I have a hero and a heroine. They are both on their individual journeys which intersect. There is a mutual theme running through the story that applies to them both. Both of them have life changing incidents that start them on their journeys. So which journey do I chose? And consequently which character’s plot point launches the story? As I write this I’m groaning with embarrassment. Have I totally missed the whole concept of PP1? Actually, I may have discovered my answer as I write. But, I’m still interested in hearing your comments. Just a little side note – my writer friends and I are your total groupies.

Bill Cory May 18, 2014 at 8:39 am

Robert Jones wrote: “But for the first time novelist, you could steal Tom Clancy’s next novel and put your name on it and they wouldn’t bother tonread it.”

Not exactly encouraging, but good to know. Maybe this is all the more reason to use Lightning Source, etc., and get the finished book out there. If we’re going to be automatically rejected by the establishment, why not be rejected by the “regular” people who’ve bought the book and read it? At least we get to make a buck or two. (And, heck, maybe they’d like it?)

Thanks for this post. I wish I’d read it when it was new, but maybe I wouldn’t have understood it then. Now, after two long drafts of ‘searching for story,’ I get it.

I had a wreck a week ago. I was telling my daughter yesterday, the wreck was just an inciting incident. The First Plot Point, then, was when we found out from the insurance company that the car was, indeed, totaled. Now, our journey is to explore, discover, make decisions, etc., about what to do about it. Can’t wait for the midpoint, whatever that might be… Sometimes it takes a personal experience /plus/ your posts and comments to pound these things into our heads!

Comments on this entry are closed.

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: