I've also seen and heard writers who say they can't make heads or tails of such things, that over-specificity leads to rigidity, and that you should stop worrying and just write.
I came across video of Dan Wells, author of I am Not a Serial Killer, who gave a presentation on this topic at the 2010 Life, the Universe, and Everything conference at BYU. Dan discusses the seven point system he learned from the Star Trek Role-playing Game Narrator's Guide. The points are:
- Plot Turn 1
- Pinch 1
- Pinch 2
- Plot Turn 2
But look at it this way:
Action (cause) = Plot Turn or MidpointIf we set aside the Hook as a special, initial case, were left with three pairs of high-level action and resolution. The resolution in the first two pairs is called a Pinch because it doesn't resolve the story problem.
Resolution (effect) = Pinch or Resolution
If we stand back and squint, we see:
Act 1 = (Hook) Plot Turn 1 -> Pinch 1 [doesn't resolve the story problem]We observed last week that story is fundamentally about cause and effect. So why three pairs of causes and effects? Because a problem worthy of a long-form story has to be hard enough that it takes more than one try to find the solution.
Act 2 = Midpoint -> Pinch 2 [still doesn't resolve the story problem]
Act 3 = Plot Turn 2 -> Resolution [finally resolves the story problem]
Three acts; three cause and effect cycles; the structure of a story need be no more mysterious than this.
Deren blogs daily at The Laws of Making.