second pinch
Adventures in NaNoWriMo

Second Pinch Point NaNoWriMo day 19

The second pinch point

The empire strikes back

On day 19 we learn the main character doesn’t have all the answers. At the second pinch point, things get too hard. Here the antagonistic forces overcome our hero. The hero sees his new beliefs didn’t solve his problem and now things are worse than before.

Second Pinch Point

The second pinch point usually comes in three forms: the villain pulls a secret weapon, the thief gets caught, or a complicating factor.

Secret weapon

In this scenario, the villain suddenly becomes more powerful in some way. The difficulty with this scenario is that any sudden jump in power must be believable. (Micromanagers in the Lego Movie) Otherwise, it feels like a cheap plot device.

Thief gets caught

This is set-up through a sneaking into the fortress scenario which may or may not include a diversion team. At the second pinch point, the hero’s team will be discovered by the villain. The Lego Movie uses this scenario in addition to the micromanagers to build a stronger pinch point.

Complicating factor

Complicating factor is some new piece of information or an event that makes the original plan doomed to failure. The love interest is kidnapped, for example. If possible, make your complicating factor related to the character arc. This will strengthen the connection to your story, rather than feeling like a random obstacle. In Inside Out, Joy realizes that if Sadness gets into the vacuum tube she will turn the core memories sad. She has a chance to get back to headquarters, but she will have to choose between keeping the core memories intact or saving Sadness.

Creating the second pinch point

plotting the second pinch point-www.themanuscriptshredder.comThe second pinch point must:

  1. Be stronger than the first. The second pinch must be the strongest obstacle the hero has faced. If it’s a minor annoyance, then it will fall flat.
  2. Make the character feel trapped. In Inside Out, Joy’s choice is more difficult this time because she has seen some indication of Sadness’s value, but her original lie that Sadness can cause harm has been reinforced. On the surface, her decision doesn’t seem difficult, but before this moment, her single-mindedness has never allowed her to have a true dilemma.

The second pinch point should:

Test the character’s new belief or reinforce the character’s lie. In the Batman movie, Batman sees his friends in danger. This reinforces his lie that his choice to be a loner will keep them safe.

Whatever the character chooses in this moment, it should lead him away from progress in the character arc.

The second pinch point is the moment everything breaks.

Whatever you decide to do to ruin your hero’s plan, make sure it affects his character arc as well. Make it the jumping off point for the downward spiral that will lead to the all hope is lost moment. The second pinch is the beginning of the collapse. Make it a powerful one.

Enjoy this article? Get the book:

M.L. Keller is a freelance writer and editor. Her blog "The Manuscript Shredder" is focused on helping emerging writers hone their craft.

Now it's your turn

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: