7-Point Story Structure: Definition, Examples and Template

A competent writer has a tool chest of methods to aid them in mapping out a novel. The most popular method is called the three-act structure. It enables you to split a story's structure into three sections. These sections build tension in the initial stages and, towards the last one, lead you to a satisfying conclusion. It's the most popular because it's introduced in writing classes throughout the country during a child's middle school years.

But one of the newest methods, made popular by Dan Wells in 2013, is called the Seven Point story structure. It's similar to the three-act structure but cuts the plot into seven straightforward beats. Even authors who are not fans of using formulas use the seven-point structure to put together and organize their thoughts.

In this guide, I will define the Seven-Point structure and discuss the best ways to use it to write compelling stories, along with a few other writing tips.

In this article, you will learn: 
  1. Seven Point story Structure Explained
  2. Rocky But In Seven Points
  3. 5 Tips for Writing a Seven-Point Structure Plot
  4. Disadvantages of the 7-Point Story Structure
  5. Why Should You Use the Seven Point Story Structure

Side note: I recommend Plottr as my top plotting tool to fabricate stories using the 7-point Story Structure and many other Story Structures. If you purchase Plottr, I do get a small commission from that, but there is no extra cost and every bit goes to the coffee fund. More on Plottr later.

Seven Point Story Structure Explained

graphic of the seven point story structure

Before learning how to utilize this method with a real-life example, I will explain each of the seven plot points in detail. While going through these steps, you'll notice the similarities between this writing process and the traditional three-act strategy, broken down into fewer parts.

  1. The Hook: Reader gets to know the protagonist and the environment they live in. The goal is to pique their interest enough so they want to continue reading. This introduction gives you a sample of the events the main character will face before the real story begins in the coming chapters.
  1. Plot Point 1: An odd or surprising event occurs that kick-starts the main story. This inciting incident pushes the main character outside of their uneventful existence and pulls them into the heart of the story. This plot point is to help the story pick up steam in the character's world.
  1. Pinch Point 1: Pinches are a story's equivalent of paint points. The protagonist discovers their purpose in the middle of the journey. However, an antagonistic character or occurrence comes into the narrative and initiates a clash. For this to work, you must create interesting characters to be a solid antagonist.
  1. Midpoint: This step in the story structure occurs when the main character stops observing what's going on to stepping up and taking action. There is a goal in mind, and the character knows what needs to be done to achieve it.
  1. Pinch Point 2: By this point in the story structure, the main character has hit rock bottom and has almost lost hope. Story leads take this point in the narrative to recuperate after getting hurt.
  1. Plot Point 2: The second plot point is when the main character finds what they need that moves them towards completing their goal or solution. The purpose they find may not always produce a cheerful ending, but this will be your decision as the writer.
  1. Resolution: All significant plot points come to an end by this point and are solved. The protagonist will possibly achieve their objective, but they also might not. In some stories, the character experiences a tragedy, and the story ends sadly. 

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Rocky But In Seven Points

To help you understand the seven-point story structure better, I will use the movie Rocky as an example. I will examine how using this method is possible if Sylvester Stallone was writing this film as a novel using the 7 point story structure.

  • The Hook: Rocky Balboa is a struggling boxer past his prime and having financial troubles. He has the potential to be a champion but doesn't believe he has the skills to compete against quality fighters. Part of him feels like all he needs is a chance to show he can be successful and someone to support him because he's never had anyone care about him.
  • Plot Turn 1: Apollo Creed, the current heavyweight champion, had a championship bout scheduled, but the contender was injured and had to cancel. Apollo comes up with an idea to find a fighter last minute but still gets the fans excited to see the fight. He gives Rocky a chance even though he's a nobody in the sport as a publicity stunt and because he thinks the match will be easy. At this point, the main plot starts to unfold.
  • Pinch Point 1: After Rocky gets the news that he will get a shot at the championship title, he starts to feel the pressure. Between his lack of confidence and the environment he was raised in holding him back, the chances of a victory seem low.
  • Mid-Point: Rocky decides to take action and go from reactive to proactive. He asks Mickey, the local gym owner, to be his trainer and begins to wake up every morning to train with him. He stops all the bad habits that were getting in the way of his success.
  • Pinch Point 2: Rocky's antagonistic forces come back to haunt him once again before his big fight. The evening before the boxing match, he begins to lose his confidence again and questions if he deserves the opportunity when others are more deserving. Instead of setting a goal to win the bout, he decides the best he can do is go the distance and not get knocked out.
  • Plot Turn: Right when the viewers begin to think Rocky doesn't have a chance, he knocks Apollo Creed down for the first time in his career, and the plot takes a turn for the better. But it's only the first round, and Rocky has another 14 to go to prove he can stand toe to toe with a world champion.
  • Resolution: Towards the end of the final fight, you can see the work he put in during the midpoint starting to pay off. The resolution shows Rocky achieving his goal of making it through the entire fight without giving up. Some readers might even consider that he won, but the match is a draw for the time being. In the story, the resolution leaves you wanting more in a sequel.

5 Tips for Writing a Seven-Point Structure Plot

I recommend using the seven points structure more than all the traditional techniques available to writers now. As a result, your writing will flow better and be easier to absorb when readers purchase your books. In addition, readable content takes less energy to read, which means it will increase the chances they read from beginning to end.

Tip 1: Work Backwards

When using the seven-point story structure, you must begin from the story's conclusion. First, figure out how it ends and what happens to your protagonist. Then, draw out the structure of your climax so you can set up the middle and beginning of your novel.

Tip 2: Develop a Hook

Now that you have the ending written, you can start from the top and set up the beginning of your tale.

Tip 3: Write the Midpoint Of your Novel

Once you have the resolution and the hook of your novel put in place, it's time to create the midpoint for your reader. Ask yourself what event in the character's life will serve as the turning point that pushes them to take action.

Tip 4: Fill in the Missing Details and Connect The Dots

Since you have the three most important events set up and on paper, you can connect each of the seven points, but you need to write both pinch points first. Around this time, you should enrich your protagonist by making them more complicated and adding more to the subplots.

Tip 5: Use This Plot Point Structure for Anything You Write

It doesn't matter if you are writing romance or sci-fi novels; the seven-point story structure is applicable to anything you write. To master it, you must read every day, write 2 to 3 hours daily, and watch highly rated films from all over the world. When writing, first write it by hand instead of typing it out, and you will be able to absorb more knowledge.

Disadvantages of the 7-Point Story Structure

Even the best writing systems are not perfect and have their weaknesses. Below are some you should consider before using this method to write your novel or short story.

  • The term “Hook” will confuse some writers because you can include more than just a hook in this section. Other writing structures give this section a different name to cause less confusion that's more open-ended.
  • “Resolution” also causes issues because it unites both the climax and the falling action together in the same section. It's a much better idea to split them up and to stop using resolution.

Why Should You Use the Seven Point Story Structure

I went through the 7-point story structure step by step to show you how it works and how you can create a sophisticated plot for your novel. By revisiting and reviewing each plot point, you will understand how to connect your story together so that it makes sense and flows properly.

If you still haven't decided whether the seven-point system is for you, I recommend it for authors that fit the below criteria:

  • Created an intriguing protagonist but doesn't have a narrative to fit them in.
  • Wants to make an engaging and readable story or character arc (A love story is perfect for this)
  • Searching for a newer mental model for creating exciting stories that ignore the status quo.

Nearly all novels follow the same basic story structure to create powerful moments and have their protagonists tackle problems they encounter. Story Structures are invaluable methods for novelists to have in their toolbox. It helps them flesh out a great story so it can flow without boring the reader, and this is where the seven points help everyone thrive on their writing journey.

If you want to use the 7 point system, I highly recommend Plottr as a way of helping you structure your story.

Plottr has templates for dozens of different storytelling techniques, including the Seven-Point Story Structure. It uses helpful prompts and guides to help you outline each scene in your story, each character that you need to build, etc.

It is also my choice for the best outlining software

Check Out Plottr Here

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