By: Sue Coletta
A few people have recently asked me what Pinch Points are, which made me wonder if others are struggling with what they are and how to use them. After a quick Google search I realized there isn’t really much written on the subject, oddly enough. And they are crucial milestones in fiction writing because they show the face of evil in its purest form. The Pinch Points demonstrate what your hero is up against, what causes him/her to jolt straight up in bed, the bogey man in the nightmare.
“We need to see that antagonist form in its purest, most dangerous and intimidating form. Or if it isn’t dangerous then at least we need to feel it for ourselves.” — Larry Brooks
“An example, or a reminder, of the nature and implications of the antagonist force, that is not filtered by the hero’s experience.” — Larry Brooks, Story Engineering
pinch points in every story
The main difference between them is the placement. The First Pinch Point comes midway between the First Plot Point and the Midpoint. Since the First Plot Point comes at 20%-25% into the book and the Midpoint comes at 50%, then the First Pinch Point would come at the 3/8th mark, or approximately 37.5%.
With the First Pinch Point the reader needs to see the antagonist form for herself and not merely hear it referenced or discussed. She needs to experience it, either through the hero’s eyes or through the antagonist himself. In crime fiction this can be a murderer planning his next kill or stalking his next victim. Or a kidnapper beating his captor, and enjoying every minute of it. Or even playing the captor’s recorded screams over the phone for the hero.
The simpler and more direct the pinch point the better.
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