I’ve watched a few movies over the past couple of days and, as any of you who follow me will know, I obsessively watched for the proper implementation of story structure.
And it never lets me down. Strongly recommended guidelines in novel writing become inviolate rules in movies. And the genre has nothing to do with it. The same points at exactly the same place (percentage-wise) are found in “Van Wilder”, “Limitless”, “The Sitter” and “Avatar”.
And, I guarantee you, you’ll also see them in “Life of Pi”, “Iron Sky” and every other movie you ever see.
And tonight, watching “Limitless”, it occurred to me that as important as these plot points are – both where they are and what they need to do – their importance pales in comparison to the importance of the bits in-between them.
I already knew that, of course. I’m just finishing book number six and I can safely say I’m finally starting to get the hang of it. But I’ve been focusing blindly on the structure when it’s the other bits I should be paying attention to.
That’s the hard part of writing. The organic flow from one point to another, the ability to pull the reader along so fast they don’t consciously realise the plot points are happening, but subconsciously understand that they did.
Because how else could you have reached the last page?
Scenes prior to the plot points need to set up those plot points. And make no mistake, each plot point, pinch point and turn is a scene. Scenes which need organic linkage to the ones before and the one following.
And as I write this, it’s like the ultimate “duh” moment for me. I’ve said this before, but I’ve never really understood the implication: The structure is nothing more than a frame. The essential parts of the story structure (hook, inciting incident, first plot point, mid-point, second plot point and the pinch points) are nothing more than way-stations, story “GPS” markers pointing you, the author, the way to the final book.
So, follow the map. Connect the dots. The dots are easy. The work – the part that makes the story shine, are the parts between the dots.