We determined in the last tip that the inciting incident is the answer to “It all started when…” In other words, if this event never happened, the story couldn’t have unfolded. This happens early on in the first Act. In future tips I’ll cover what kinds of things happen in each Act, but for now, I’ll go over what defines each major point.
The First Plot point (sometimes called a plot pinch or break into Act…) is a key event that happens at the end of Act 1 and propels us into Act 2.
M.d Tabish Faraz describes it this way:
“Plot point 1 or the first turning point in a screenplay is the event that takes place either by the will of the protagonist himself or without his will and forces his circumstances to a whole new direction. The plot point 1 is the result of the inciting incident.” (italics mine)
Though Mr. Faraz is referring to screenplays, this structure is applicable to novels as well.
When you are plotting out your novel, you are looking for an event or situation that forces your main character into a new, unforeseen direction.
In PERCEPTION, plot point one happens when Zoe disguises herself to spy on Noah Brody and is caught. This places her in a situation where she’s forced to trust him even though she doesn’t. She’s uncertain if she’s safe with him, but her need to find her brother forces her to go against her instinct.
In HUNGER GAMES plot point one happens when Katniss and Peeta are alone for the first time on the train to the Capitol–they know that in order for one of the to win, the other one has to die.
In HARRY POTTER, the first plot point occurs when Harry and Ron rescue Hermione from the troll. This event forges their three-way friendship.
In SUN & MOON, the first plot point happens when Katja meets Micah’s American mother and she announces to her son, “This girl isn’t right for you.” Katja is torn – she want’s the rude woman to be wrong, but deep down she believes her.
In GINGERBREAD MAN, the first plot point, the event that pushes us into Act 2, is when Teagan Lake is murdered in one world, but still alive in another.
This is how it looks in the scene:
>>>My fingers quivered along with my goose bump-covered body and I slumped as I read the newsfeed.
Third rape and second murder victim identified as Detroit University freshman, Teagan Lake. Her body was found in the park at the north end of the campus. Police are investigating and talking to persons of interest.
A picture of Teagan was posted alongside the story. It wasn’t the same one she used on her chat profile. Her hair was longer, and the blue streak was missing.
My mind went crazy. Despite the newsflash in front of me, I couldn’t accept it as truth. My fingers seemed to work autonomously from the logical part of my brain.
@averagegeek99 to @art4ever: Are you there? Please. I don’t know why you’re mad at me. I just need to know you’re okay.
I pinched my eyes together. I was insane. Of course she wouldn’t respond. Dead people didn’t hang out in chat rooms.
Then I heard the ping.
@art4ever: Yes. I’m here and okay.
I knocked off my glasses in surprise. My heart took off like pebbles scattered across the pond. It couldn’t be her. Could it? I scrambled to fit my glasses back on my face and began to type.<<<
Review your favorite movies and books and see if you can determine the Plot Point 1 scene.
I’ll cover Midpoint Reversal in the next tip.