[video] Seven-Point Story-Writing System-o-tron!

Dan Wells gave an awesome talk on Story Structure at BYU’s science fiction and fantasy symposium: Life, the Universe, and Everything.

He goes into great depth on the seven-point system he uses to plot all of his stories. The system goes like this:

  • Hook
  • Plot turn 1
  • Pinch
  • Midpoint
  • Pinch
  • Plot turn 2
  • Resolution

This is really cool. Watch this, even if you aren’t an up-front plotter. If you aren’t, as Dan tells us, you’ll be doing something similar anyway, just during the editing process instead of before writing.

He also goes into the Ice Monster Prologue, Try/Fail Cycles, and Subplots.


  • Start with the resolution; then get the hook. There should be an arc here; if the character ends strong, should start weak (Batman Begins). OR in a complex arc, there’s a shift, from one kind of strength to another (Dark Knight).

You can read a post Dan wrote on the same subject here — http://www.fearfulsymmetry.net/?p=314 — in which he gives the plot of the first Matrix in this format:

  1. Neo leads a sad life, trapped in a crappy job but always searching for something more.
  2. Neo is contacted by Morpheus and learns that something weird is going on.
  3. Neo is captured by the bad guys and sees that the mysteries are more dangerous than he thought.
  4. Neo learns from Morpheus that human existence is actually an illusion prison called the Matrix.
  5. Morpheus is captured, and Neo is left on his own.
  6. Neo discovers an inner reservoir of power and belief, enabling him to control the Matrix.
  7. Neo uses his power to defeat the bad guys and save the day.

Try matching this structure up to your favorite novel! But first, watch this awesome talk in 5 parts.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4:

Part 5:


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