Outlines, outlines and more outlines. I’ve spent the past few days mulling over major milestones of several well-known stories. I wanted to jot some of them down, because this exercise is helping me feel the cadence of writing an entire novel.
STAR WARS (A New Hope): I can’t do a post about story structure without discussing STAR WARS!!!! There are MANY, MANY posts on this topic. I’ve skimmed a bunch of them and chosen the points that make the most sense to me. Here goes:
HOOK: Most of the posts I’ve read online have stated the hook in Star Wars is that Luke Skywalker is a bored young farm boy who longs for adventure. Now, as a new writer, who am I to question the experts, right? But as a movie spectator, this was NOT the hook for ME. What hooked me was Darth Vader storming Leia’s ship and taking her hostage. I wanted to find out what happened next. Isn’t that the very definition of a hook?
INCITING INCIDENT: This story never would have happened if Luke Skywalker had left R2D2 alone. But Luke’s adventure begins when he accidentally triggers Princess Leia’s distress message in R2D2.
PLOT POINT #1: I always think of this milestone as the “point of no return.” The hero must make an important decision at this point in the story. In Star Wars, Luke Skywalker CHOOSES to go with Obi Wan Kenobi to fight the Empire.
PINCH POINT #1: Ah, yes. The antagonist makes his presence known in this part of the story. Luke Skywalker narrowly escapes capture by Imperial Storm Troopers when he tries to leave Tattooine with the droids.
[NOTE: ENTER THE ALLIES – Luke Skywalker picks up allies (Hans Solo and Chewbacca) who help him escape being caught in this pinch point.]
MIDPOINT: The story COMPLETELY changes when Luke Skywalker shows up where the rebel base is supposed to be and discovers that the entire planet of Alderaan has been blown up. Well, if THAT isn’t a game changer, then I don’t know what is. Oh, wait. There’s more. He and his new friends are pulled into the Death Star. They discover Princess Leia is on the ship. NEW PLAN!!! Rescue Princess Leia!
PINCH POINT #2: Avoiding death by garbage compactor and then escaping the Death Star was a pretty big pinch point…… And let’s not forget the infamous “All Is Lost” moment: Obi Wan Kenobi dies. Luke loses his mentor. This is definitely the bleakest moment in the story.
PLOT POINT #2: This milestone was a little trickier for me to see clearly in this story. It’s supposed to be the point when the hero finally attains the final object or piece of information that he or she needs to achieve his or her goal. After several attempts at trying to detonate the Death Star, Luke finally decides to trust his ability to manage “The Force.” He shuts off the computer on his ship and just lets The Force guide him. So, to me, it isn’t that he finally ACQUIRES something – he finally USES something that he always had. So maybe he acquires confidence? I’m not sure.
RESOLUTION: Yay! The Death Star is blown up and everyone is saved. Of course, there has to be tangible recognition of the hero’s victory. What better way to tangibly acknowledge the hero’s victory than an award ceremony? Princess Leia awards Luke and Han with an award and everyone in the large audience claps. Woo-Hoo!
Well, that was fun. It definitely gave me some ideas for the cadence of the Charlie Weaver story. I hope that this post helped some of you out there too. Thank you for reading!