A plot point in fiction is a story event that twists the action in an unexpected direction. Plot points are used to keep the action moving and the story interesting. A good story will have several major and minor plot points that serve to raise the stakes as the story progresses to the climax.
Although different types of fiction necessitate different plot arrangements, there are some commonalities. The inciting incident, or the event that sets a goal for the main character to work toward, is usually the first plot point. Conflicts or consequences, or antagonists attempting to prevent the character from achieving his goal, may follow. Complicated situations and requirements must be overcome or fulfilled.
As the story nears its conclusion, the character appears to be on the verge of achieving the goal and must fully commit to it. A new obstacle is frequently introduced at this point, making the goal appear to be further away than before. This leads to the climax, where a decision is made or a resolution is reached, and the final, most difficult obstacles are overcome.
The story will contain many minor and major plot points throughout a 120-page screenplay, for example. Three to ten minutes into the story, the first major plot point usually occurs. This occurrence upends the status quo and sets the stage for ACT I.
A second, more dramatic plot point occurs near the end of ACT I, turning events around and setting up the main conflict for ACT II. Another major plot point occurs halfway through ACT II, and then again near the end of ACT II, plunging the viewer into the story’s climax. Every major plot point should be more dramatic than the one before it, raising the stakes for the hero or heroine even higher.
A good screenplay will have minor plot points strewn throughout the story, at least every ten minutes or so. The story would drag between the main plot points if these changes of direction were not made. However, the sequence of events must be causal; if a plot point appears out of nowhere, makes no sense, feels contrived, or is too convenient, the story suffers. A surprising turn of events should, in theory, catch the audience off guard while also making sense in retrospect.
Despite the fact that the average moviegoer may not understand what a plot point is definition, years of watching movies have trained viewers to expect tension to rise until the climax. It erupts at this point in the most moving scene of the entire film. A good action film may begin with a bang, setting the stage for even more action and tension to follow.
You’ve just enjoyed a plot point the next time you’re at the theater and events take a quirky, surprising, unexpected, dreadful, or victorious turn. If you’re trying to stay awake while reading a story that seems to drag on and on, you’re probably reading a story with too few plot points or plot points that are too weak.