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Pinch points are important and I will admit a new idea for me. But basically they are where the action takes place that leads up to the main climax. It is something that I recognized intuitively but did not have a name for. On her blog, Live Write Thrive, C.S. Lakin continues her series on pinch points.
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A Look at the Second Pinch Point in Stories
Last week we took a look at the first pinch point—that moment in your story that comes after the hero’s goal is set and before the midpoint appears (in which the character has some important choices to make about the tough obstacles he’s facing).
Pinch points are mostly about the opposition. If the first pinch point reveals the strength of the opposition, the second one showcases the full force of it. If your character faces the edge of a hurricane at sea at the first pinch point, showing him what he’s truly up against, the second pinch point is going to be the battle for survival with the full brunt of the storm.
This isn’t the climax, but it’s building up to it. It’s preparing the stage for the final attack or onslaught or challenge your character will have to take.
As I said in last week’s post, I cringe when I have to do math and force my story into something like “the second pinch point comes 5/8ths into the story, at the 62% mark, exactly between the middle of the story and the second plot point—the middle of the third act.”
Can’t we just say this pinch point comes a little before the climax, to ramp up the stakes and make things start to look impossible for your character. I’m good with that. But hey, if you need to do the math and put everything on just the right page number, go for it.
These Pinch Points Are Key Developments
This basic structure fits every genre. Even a children’s fairy tale will show the wolf making inroads in the forest, confronting Little Red on her way to Granny’s at the first pinch point. And what happens at that second pinch point? Little Red is noting those big teeth Granny has, followed by the sinking realization it isn’t Granny lying in bed in that cute nightgown and bonnet.
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