Story Structure #8: Part Three (and Pinch Point Two)


Story Engineering Model (four-part story model): Part Three, the next ~25% of our story.

Up until this point our hero has been rather un-hero-like. He’s a great guy, and we all love him, but he hasn’t done anything exceptionally heroic, at least not in regards to the story at hand. That is all about to change as he steps up to make things happen. He’s attacking; he’s a warrior; he’s entering the thick of it.

What do we do in box number three? Let us see:

  • Attack – It is time for our hero to go on the offensive. No more floundering, no more wishy-washiness. Time to take matters into his own hands and git’r’dun.
    • He will, to be sure, meet some serious resistance. Op-po-si-tion. Antagonistic force in high gear. Get ready. We need to show that opposition front and center.
  • Who’s With Me? – Part Three cements the reader’s relationship with our hero.
    • At the point of attack, every one of our readers either:
      • Sees themselves in our hero (identification good),
      • Feels what our hero is going through (maybe they’re not identifying with the hero as much as the situation),
      • OR, is strapped in for a vicarious ride to escape their boring real-life existence (whatever works, yes?).
    • Possibly all three of these are on the shoulders of our readers. But at least one must be in play. Now it is time to deliver what they’re jonesin’ for.
  • More Attack – Our hero is really thrashing his way through here, not letting any of the antagonistic crap we’ve been foreshadowing all along hold him back. He is determined, ready to do what it takes to emerge victorious.
    • He will not be successful right away. That would be boring. Our hero needs to prove his mettle, overcome his weaknesses, find the right path, find the right helpers, make the right moves. And all of those will require some trial and error. This is what our third story box is filled with.
  • Pinch Point Two – Here we go again… Midway through Part Three is where we need to drop in another pinch point, a reminder of who the bad guy is.

Part Three can be painful for authors, and readers (not to mention heroes), because it is so filled with struggle and failure. But the fact is that a hard-won victory is always sweeter than one handed to us with ease. And our reader will feel cheated if they follow our worthy hero this far and find that they were rooting for him all this time to power through… nothing. It can’t be easy. He can’t just waltz in and take the prize. Our opposition has to be stronger than that. So we must fill our box with all the blood, sweat, tears, and miserable failure we can. Even though it may break our hearts to do so.

Here’s a slightly more abbreviated outline of Part Three and its missions, all in a neat little pdf package, complete with space for you to make some notes on your own story: Four-Part Story Structure – Part Three (#5)

To view a chronological listing of the posts in this series, continue below:

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