Step 4 – Plot

GOAL: Identify your narrative’s five most critical plot points.
DELIVERABLES: 1-2 pages document that describes each of the 5 Key Plot Points and all characters involved in each plot point (player, ghost, Key NPC, etc.)

The Biggest Moments

From the exploration, brainstorming ideas, identify the five biggest moments within the standard 3-Act structure. Not all plot ideas will fit the A plot story. Sort them, and keep B and C plot ideas separate to focus on the A plot points.

  • What are the conventions and obligatory scenes of the Genre?
  • What is the Beginning Hook, the middle build up and the Ending payoff?
  • What are the protagonist’s objects of desire?

They include:

  • The SETUP
    • Set-Up the protagonist’s journey by identifying their “status quo”.
    • What does his/her “external” world look like?
    • What is his/her emotional/psychological state?
    • What is the tried & true “inciting incident”?
    • What’s the key moment (Reveal) that sends the Protagonist into conflict?
      • It has to be something happening to the protagonist, not something he went to look for.
    • What changes his/her world?
    • How is he/she put in danger?
    • How does this affect their emotional/psychological state?
    • What is the new motivation?
    • Where the stakes are explicitly raised, the “ticking clock” starts, and/or the antagonist(s) put the squeeze on our hero.
    • Something that might have a consequence later, definitely something game-changing.
    • The longer the experience, the more likely this needs to be a motivation change.
  • The BREAK
    • What is the moment when “All is Lost,” and there is no hope?
    • What is the moment that “breaks” our protagonist?
    • What is the major setback to the protagonist’s plans?
    • This is as far as the character can go without deeply changing its ways.
    • This final test will put him/her into a profound failure state.
    • How do they dial it in to face the seemingly insurmountable conflict ahead?
    • This moment of doubt will bring the NEED to the surface.
  • The BATTLE
    • How does the story conclude?
    • What does the final battle between the Protagonist and Antagonist look like?
    • How has the story transformed the Protagonist?
    • What has the protagonist (and any other applicable character) learned?
    • What does your post-conflict denouement look like?

“Why isn’t everything exploding?!”

Michael Bay