Sorry, pantsers, we’re back on plot today.
Most of the “keywords” I’ll mention in these plotting posts are from Larry Brooks’ series on story structure (i.e. 6 core competencies). That’s because his definitions and explanations make sense to me in a more concrete way than any other method of plotting I’ve tried.
It works for me. It won’t work for everyone. But if you’re a plotter and you haven’t read his series on NaNoWriMo, you really should.
Today we’re talking about the SPP or Second Plot Point. It’s what Larry Brooks describes as “when the chase scene starts.” This is the last time the reader gets new information about the story, the moment when there is no question what the main character must do to save their stakes or meet their story goal. It happens about ¾ through your story and it moves your main character from a hero of action to a hero of desperate action.
What’s most important about the SPP is that it propels your story forward in a way it previously lacked. It comes right after the ‘lull’ or the moment when the MC believes he has failed at his mission and all hope is lost. Suddenly, there’s a shift in the power differential, your MC gets a burst of courage, or something new comes to light that makes the MC say “I MUST ACCOMPLISH THE STORY GOAL AND I MUST DO IT RIGHT THE EFF NOW!”
Some concrete examples that don’t involve shouty capitalization (but do contain spoilers):
***MASSIVE SPOILER ALERT****Tris makes it to the Abnegation safehouse and finds her brother is not a dirty family-hating traitor after all. (The pre-SPP ‘lull’ is when her mother sacrifices herself so that Tris can escape.)
Katniss goes to the Cornucopia ‘Feast’ to get medicine for Peeta, knowing her success means they can both go home if they win. (The pre-SPP lull is when Peeta threatens to follow/sabbotage her if she tries to go to the feast, because he’d rather die than have her risk herself. Katniss feels all hope is lost if she survives but Peeta dies.)
During detention in the Forbidden Forest, Hagrid reveals that he bought Norbert (a baby dragon) off a mysterious stranger in a pub and during the course of the transaction revealed that the key to getting Fluffy the Three Headed Dog to sleep was to play him music. Harry realizes that the mysterious stranger is Voldemort and that he’s the bad guy, not Snape. (The pre-SPP lull is when he gets caught by Filch after releasing Norbert and believes Snape is going to get the Stone, no matter what he does.)