Story structure – it is beginning, middle and an end as we were taught at school isn’t it?
Maybe if the middle is recognised as being half the length of the story with two distinct halves to it, you could say it is the middle of three acts. I am really talking about a story having four main parts.
A story created with the well-used structure we all see at play in movies we watch, whether we are aware of it or not, means that the essence of a plot can be captured in nine key sentences or at least short paragraphs. Around 20% to 25% of the way into a story (and no later or you are keeping the audience waiting too long) there is something called the first plot point. It is the moment when the protagonist changes their plans and responds to the antagonistic force in the plot – and at first, not very successfully. If you are watching a two-hour movie that starts at 9pm watch out at around 9.30pm, probably just after a commercial break, and you’ll see it.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerers (or Philosiphers) Stone – Harry boards the train to Hogwarts for the first time.
In the first Star Wars film “A New Hope” – Luke Skywalker finds his aunt and uncle burnt to death by Storm Troopers pursuing the droids he has bought and announces to Ben Kenobi that he wants to join the rebellion against the empire and become a Jedi like his father.
Ground Hog Day – The newsman Phil wakes up and re-experiences ground hog day for the first time.
Spiderman – Peter Parker realises he has spider superpowers for the first time and has to start coming to terms with them.
Back to the Future part 1 – Marty McFly, escaping from the Libyan terrorists, hits 88mph in the DeLorean and heads back in time for the first time.
Accidental Hero – Dustin Hoffman’s character Bernie Laplante, a no-good swindler, witnesses a plane crash and pulls numerous people out of the burning wreckage saving their lives. When the press goes hunting for the hero, someone else takes the credit.
Knowing – Nicolas Cage’s character John Koestler finally realises the significance of all the numbers on a mystery piece of paper taken from a time capsule buried in 1959. He already suspects they predict the date and numbers of deaths in accidents. When the date of a new predicted event arrives, he is stuck in a traffic accident and notices the latitude and longitude on his cars navigation system corresponds with the numbers he did not understand before on the sheet. When he leaves the car to enquire how many people died in the traffic accident, an airliner skims the road and crashes into a nearby field killing the predicted number of people. Now he is in no doubt what the numbers mean.