Writing a novel is akin to a marathon – it’s long, grueling, and requires meticulous preparation. One proven strategy to ensure your story is gripping from the get-go is the 7-Point Method. This system offers a bird’s eye view of the plot, ensuring a balanced and symmetrical narrative. Here’s a deep dive into each point and how to use them:
What are the 7 points?
Dan Wells, author of the John Cleaver series and Partials Sequence, introduced the 7 points to create a balanced novel at a conference in 2013. The points hit on some classic moments in storytelling such as the hook, the midpoint, and the resolution, which can be found in other novel-writing methods. However, unlike other methods, the 7-Point Method dives deeper into beats that add tension and conflict to a story.
Here are the points:
- The Hook: This comprises the introduction to the main character, the world, and the story. Before this section ends, something must grab the reader’s attention and make them want to continue.
- Plot Turn 1: This is the event or events that sets a story into motion. A conflict changes the ordinary world and forces the main character to begin a journey.
- Pinch Point 1: This is where the antagonist is introduced for the first time, creating conflict for the main character. The reader should learn here just how hard the road ahead will be.
- Midpoint: This is where the main character is faced with something that changes their perspective. They stop reacting to situations and start taking their own action by forming a new goal.
- Pinch Point 2: This is where the antagonist applies pressure again and the main character experiences their darkest moment.
- Plot Turn 2: From here, the main character finds the final thing they need to achieve their goal from the Midpoint.
- Resolution: This comprises both the climax and the falling action. Here, the main character either fails or succeeds at their goal. The reader is then taken through the aftermath of the climax and glimpses the new life in store for the main character.
What order do I write the points in?
When you have finished writing your story, the structure should resemble the points above, from 1 to 7. However, when you’re in the drafting stage, you shouldn’t plan out your story numerically. Instead, the most effective way to use these points is to hop around.
The order you should follow looks like this:
2. Plot Turn 1
6. Plot Turn 2
3. Pinch Point 1
5. Pinch Point 2
The Resolution: Start with the Ending
Begin at the end. It may sound counterintuitive, but the resolution is where every twist, turn, and character development culminates. By drafting the climax first, you set a clear direction for your narrative. This strategy provides invaluable insight into the final stage of the main character’s journey, ensuring a resonant and satisfying conclusion, where they either triumph or fail in their mission. To craft this climax, link the resolution to your story’s central theme. Whether your MC faces a conflict’s conclusion or reaches a personal growth milestone, this pivotal moment should echo the character’s entire journey.
The Hook: Laying the Foundation
Next, lay down the foundation with a gripping hook. It’s here that readers first step into your world and meet the main character. The hook’s promise of transformation is essential; if the MC reaches a triumphant resolution, their journey should start at a contrasting low point. This stark contrast from beginning to end ensures readers remain riveted, eager to witness the character’s evolution. Moreover, the hook isn’t just a fleeting teaser but a rich introduction, setting the stage for the upcoming plot turns and conflicts.
The Midpoint: A Pivotal Moment
At the story’s center lies the midpoint. Here, the main character undergoes a transformative shift from reacting to external events to proactively pursuing their objectives. They take hold of their own story and stop letting others tell them what their destiny is. A distinct trigger – a false victory or unexpected challenge – sparks this shift. Authors should emphasize the transformation, particularly the catalysts that push the main character from a passive bystander to an active protagonist.
Plot Turns 1 & 2: Twists and Shifts
Integral to the 7-Point Method are the plot turns. The first, shortly after the hook, disrupts the main character’s equilibrium. It pushes the main character out of a familiar world and into a new one. This disturbance, whether an unforeseen event or personal dilemma, introduces the narrative’s central conflict and stakes. Consider what motivates the main character to address this challenge. Take time to explain to the reader why this is unavoidable and what risks the character faces.
Contrasting the first turn, the second plot turn is marked by the main character’s proactive shift. Here, they recognize their capabilities, using acquired knowledge and tools to inch closer to their ultimate goal. This turn underscores the main character’s determination, highlighting their unwavering commitment to the goal they made in the Midpoint.
Pinch Points 1 & 2: Adding Pressure
Between the twists and turns are the pinch points. The first introduces the antagonist, adding layers of complexity to the main character’s journey. This introduction heightens the story’s tension and hints at the challenges ahead.
Meanwhile, the second pinch shows the main character at their most vulnerable. Encountering seemingly insurmountable obstacles, they grapple with feelings of defeat and desolation. This is often a moment where “all hope is lost.” This forces the main character to innovate, think outside the box, and find the solution that is revealed in Plot Turn 2.
Concluding Thoughts & Tips
The strength of the 7-Point Method lies in its adaptability. Whether you’re writing a contemporary mystery or a sci-fi epic, this framework offers a structured yet flexible roadmap to any story. When working with the points, authors should approach terms like “Hook” and “Resolution” cautiously, understanding that the hook here also includes the introduction and the resolution encompasses the climax and falling action. Make sure you fill out all points to avoid any plot holes.
Remember, this method provides a framework, but the creativity and details are up to you.