4 Tips for Writing Your Story's Second Pinch Point

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4 Tips for Writing Your Story's Second Pinch Point

Anybody Can Write a Novel 2.0

Chapter 6 “Plot Points” – Section 8 “Second Pinch Point”

If you look at the great superheroes in any universe, you will always find that they have the very best super villains opposing them. It's because they are foils; they are people that the heroes play off of.”
-Jim Lee

The villain, the antagonist, adversity, and the struggle against them are the elements which define the hero, and often even the device by which the hero finds the strength to fight. Nowhere do we see this more clearly than in the Second Pinch Point. The Second Pinch Point is the part of the story that comes directly after or even during the Disaster (that point in which the protagonist has lost their spirit due to defeat), where the looming threat of the primary antagonistic force creates a necessity for the hero to try one last time. In Star Wars – A New Hope, this plot-point comes as the Death Star follows the heroes to the rebel base, creating such a terrible threat that Luke feels that he has no choice but to fight against impossible odds. Just like the First Pinch Point, this plot-point will be driven by the primary antagonistic force, with the hero doing little more than seeing the danger at hand.

Tip 1: Determine the length, level of focus, and power of the Second Pinch Point.

Just like with the Disaster, how much space and time you spend—as well as whether the two plot-points happen together or as separate events—is completely up to you. In A New Hope, we obviously see a much more abbreviated version of these plot points, as well as entirely abbreviated Third Act. This works for the movie because it is the first installment of a trilogy. While it has an entire Twelve Point Plot Outline, A New Hope also serves as an Act I for the trilogy as a whole. In Return of the Jedi, however, the Second Pinch Point takes a much more dramatic emphasis, as the Emperor (primary antagonistic force) threatens to destroy all of Luke's friends and allies in a dramatic scene that builds tremendous tension. For your own story, keep both possibilities in mind, particularly if you are writing a trilogy, but start by keeping your plot-points in separate chapters (even if short ones) for the sake of clarity and ease of changing the story within the first draft. In later drafts, I recommend whatever combination of spacing and focus that you and your Writing Partner determine will best suit the story.

Tip 2: Create an even more clear picture of the primary antagonistic force's power.

In the most oversimplified terms, the Second Pinch Point could be seen as a darker, more potent copy of the First Pinch Point. And just as you illustrated the power of the primary antagonistic force then, you must now do so with even more clarity. In Return of the Jedi, the Second Pinch Point not only shows us how the Death Star can destroy the rebels and everyone our heroes care about, but we also get a sense of the personal power of the Emperor—both in terms of the army at his disposal and his personal mastery of the Force. This gives the audience a sense of apprehension when they realize the odds that are stacked against the heroes, as well as dramatic emphasis on the consequences that will occur should our hero fail. In your own story, look at the picture you painted in the First Pinch Point, and then make Second Pinch Point even more potent and clear—both to the protagonist and to the reader. This enhancement will create forward momentum and make the story seem to grow in scale, especially as you draw near to the ending.

Tip 3: Allow your hero to be impacted by the threat before allowing them to stand back up.

In order for your Second Pinch Point to have an effect on the story and on the audience, it must first have an impact on your protagonist. In Return of the Jedi, we watch as Luke is tempted to give in to his hate and anger and to destroy his father in a passionate retaliation for the Emperor's attack on his friends. Luke is actually impacted by the looming danger and so it not only seems more significant and makes the audience feel the weight of the situation, but it also creates the sense that our hero is not merely doing what comes next in the script like some sort of mechanical process. No, he's stunned and delayed and nearly destroyed by the power of the situation. In addition, this dramatic pause creates a division between the Second Pinch Point and the upcoming Second Turning Point. Remember that your character does not yet move forward toward their true goal. They are still in the pit of despair, they've simply realized that somebody has begun to dump dirt on their heads from the top of the pit—with the intention of burying them alive—and should react with fear, anger, sadness, pain, or some other emotion.

Tip 4: Prepare for the Second Turning Point, and the end of Act II.

Remember that the space between Acts is the easiest place to lose one's readers, as the Acts tend to have a feeling of separation. And while this will not be so much a problem for the end of Act II as it was for Act I, you must still remember to begin preparing for a scene of great significance that also has some sort of cliffhanger/dramatic tension that causes the reader to feel compelled to continue reading. After the Second Pinch Point, you will begin the final plot-point of Act II—the Second Turning Point—an event that is personal to the protagonist and that will give the protagonist just enough clarity to recreate a specific goal and to put up one last fight. In Return of the Jedi, the Second Turning Point is the event that comes after Luke has been pushed by the Emperor into battling his father, Darth Vader. In the middle of the battle, Vader suggests that if Luke will not join the dark side then maybe Leia could. This personal event fills Luke with a mixture of rage, protective instinct, and clarity that he must win the fight. For your own story, make room for one last personal trigger—the straw that will break the camel's back and turn your story around.

Weekly Recommended Watching: Star Wars- The Empire Strikes Back, and The Return of the Jedi. (Go ahead and finish the original trilogy as the second two movies will have a greater relevance to and greater focus on the later plot-points in a story.)

Write-a-Novel Exercise 6.8

Write your story's Disaster, following the steps above. Click here to submit it to the gallery. 

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Leopold002's avatar
As always, something to be considered.