The 7-point plot structure is often attributed to author Dan Wells, known for his work in the science fiction and horror genres.

Wells popularised this structure through a series of lectures and writings in which he outlined the seven key points and explained how they can be used to construct a compelling narrative.

The 7-point plot structure itself is a variation of the more traditional three-act structure, which divides a story into a beginning, a middle, and an end.

The 7-point structure adds more specific milestones within those three acts, providing a more detailed roadmap for the narrative.

While Wells played a significant role in popularising the 7-point structure, the ideas behind it are rooted in ancient storytelling traditions and narrative theory.

Many storytelling structures, including the three-act structure, the hero’s journey, and the five-act structure, share common elements each other.

Any story structure aims to create a satisfying narrative arc, with a clear beginning, middle, and end, and specific points of tension and resolution.

It’s worth noting that while the 7-point plot structure provides a useful framework for storytelling, it is not a rigid formula that must be followed exactly.

As a writer, you adapt and modify the structure to suit your needs and creative vision.

Every writer is going to have their favourite way to outline. A lot of writers use different ones for different stories.

The more outline structures you’re familiar with, the more tools in your writing toolbox you’ll have.

The 7-point plot outline uses (surprise, surprise) seven key events in a narrative.

The seven points, in order, typically include:

  1. The Hook (~10%)
  2. Plot Turn 1 (~25%)
  3. Pinch Point 1 (~40%)
  4. Midpoint (~50%)
  5. Pinch Point 2 (~60%)
  6. Plot Turn 2 (~70%)
  7. Resolution (~90%)

The Hook (~10%) – Introduce the protagonist’s desires and flaws

The opening of your novel should grab readers’ attention and introduce your protagonist in a compelling way.

Highlight the protagonist’s desires, goals, and flaws, giving readers a glimpse into their world and what drives them.

By the 10% mark of your story, your readers should have been introduced to the main character and the setting, and have a sense of what the story will be about.

Plot Turn 1 (~25%) – Thrust protagonist into the extraordinary world

This is also called The Inciting Incident.

Around the 25% mark of your novel, introduce a significant plot turn that takes the protagonist from their ordinary world and thrusts them into an extraordinary world.

This event sets the stage for the main conflict and propels the story forward.

It could be an unexpected event, meeting a mentor, or a life-altering discovery.

Pinch Point 1 (~40%) – Apply pressure to the protagonist

Roughly after the first third of the story the first major obstacle or antagonist force applies pressure to your protagonist, heightening the tension.

Introduce the antagonist or showcase a key action by the antagonist against the protagonist.

This pinch point intensifies the conflict, challenges the protagonist’s beliefs or abilities, and raises the stakes.

Midpoint (~50%) – Protagonist goes from reactive to proactive

Around the midpoint of your novel, the protagonist should transition from being passive or reactive to becoming active and proactive.

They make a crucial decision, take control of their fate, and resolve to stop the antagonist.

This turning point energises the narrative and propels the protagonist into the heart of the conflict.

This can be a significant event or revelation that changes the protagonist’s approach, goals, or understanding of the conflict.

A midpoint twist can be challenging to pull off, but when done well it’s a delight.

This pivotal moment marks a transition for the protagonist, shifting them from passivity/reactivity to taking control of their fate.

This change in mindset and action drives the character’s development and allows them to actively pursue their goals and challenge the antagonist.

Readers resonate with characters who exhibit growth and agency, deepening their emotional connection to the story.

It’s not interesting to read about someone who has no struggles, because they have nothing to learn, nothing to overcome.

Pinch Point 2 (~60%) – Push the protagonist to their lowest moment

After the midpoint, intensify the pressure on the protagonist by subjecting them to a challenging situation, pushing them to their lowest or darkest moment.

This pinch point tests their resolve, forcing them to confront their weaknesses and make critical choices.

Plot Turn 2 (~75%) – Revelation or Key Discovery

At the 75% mark of your novel, the protagonist discovers or realises a key piece of information that allows them to devise a plan to defeat the antagonist.

This plot turn brings clarity, shifts the power dynamics, and propels the protagonist towards the climax.

It’s often where the final pieces fall into place to prepare for the endgame.

This revelation empowers the protagonist and provides them with a strategic advantage in their confrontation with the antagonist.

It adds excitement and anticipation, propelling the story towards its climax.

Resolution (~90%) – Protagonist’s success or failure

In the resolution, the protagonist faces the final confrontation with the antagonist.

They either succeed in defeating or stopping the antagonist, achieving their goals, or they experience a failure that leaves room for growth and reflection.

Ensure that the resolution provides a satisfying conclusion that ties up loose ends and leaves readers with a sense of closure.

The climax of the story often occurs around the 90% mark, with the final pages dedicated to tying up loose ends and illustrating the new normal for the characters.

Ultimately, the outlined structure ensures a satisfying resolution to the story.

Whether the protagonist succeeds or fails in defeating the antagonist, the resolution ties up loose ends and provides closure to the narrative.

Readers appreciate a well-executed resolution that offers a sense of fulfilment and leaves a lasting impression.

An example of the 7-point outline: WALL-E


The film opens with the solitary life of WALL-E on an abandoned Earth. He is a trash-compacting robot left to clean up the planet, which is covered in garbage and devoid of human life. The hook is in how different and curious WALL-E is from the other trash compacting robots, displaying personality and a sense of loneliness.

Pinch Point 1

The arrival of EVE, a sleek robot sent from the spaceship Axiom to search for signs of life on Earth. WALL-E is immediately smitten and after a series of events, shows her a plant he found.

Plot Turn 1

EVE goes into a standby mode once she secures the plant, leaving WALL-E confused and anxious for her. This culminates in a ship coming to retrieve EVE.


WALL-E follows EVE into space, and they end up on the Axiom. Here, WALL-E accidentally incites a robot rebellion and begins to influence the humans and robots on the Axiom with his curiosity and capacity for care, all while trying to follow EVE to make sure she’s alright. The plant is entered into the Axiom’s detector which triggers certain protocols.

Pinch Point 2

The plant is stolen and WALL-E and EVE are considered rogue robots. WALL-E is severely damaged in the process, creating a sense of urgency because now WALL-E’s survival is at stake along with the fate of Earth.

Plot Turn 2

When WALL-E and EVE recover the plant, the Axiom’s autopilot, AUTO, tries to stop them from reaching the holo-detector. This is the turning point where EVE fully supports WALL-E’s mission over the Axiom’s commands, having learned about love and determination from him, and the captain of the Axiom fights for control of his ship.


WALL-E and EVE, with the help of the captain and the other robots, manage to get the plant to the holo-detector, which triggers the Axiom to return to Earth. WALL-E is almost destroyed in the process, but the return to Earth marks the beginning of a new era for humanity. In the final scenes, EVE repairs WALL-E, and though it seems at first that his memory and personality have been wiped clean, he soon comes back to his old self, suggesting a hopeful future for both him and humanity.

The 7-point outline is one of my favourite tools.

I like it better than almost any other outlining tool because it gives me enough plot points to work with without being too simplistic.

It helps ensure that my narrative has a clear direction and that key plot points are thought out in advance.

By knowing roughly when significant events should happen, I can keep the story moving forward.

I also like to use if after the first draft is complete, to evaluate each point and ask if it fulfils its role effectively or if adjustments are needed to improve the narrative’s flow and coherence.

If I get feedback that it’s dragging in the middle or feeling rushed at the end, the 7-point structure works well like a diagnostic tool to examine the architecture and pinpoint where the pacing or narrative might be off.

Even if I don’t know much about the story, for instance the beginning and end but I’m not sure how to connect them, the 7-point outline is a framework that helps fill in those gaps with meaningful plot points.

During the writing process, it’s easy for me to get sidetracked with subplots or new ideas that can make the story bloated or unfocused.

By having an outline, I can keep the main plot clear and ensure that additional elements contribute to the story’s central arc.

While the 7-point plot structure can be very useful, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution.

Feel free to adapt it to your needs or to ignore it altogether if a different approach suits your creative style better.

It’s only one tool in a writer’s toolkit, and like all tools, its effectiveness depends on how it’s used and for what purpose.

Alternatives to the 7-point story outline.

As I’ve said, the 7-point outline is just one of many tools and the more outlining methods you know, the more options you’ll have at your disposal to plot and troubleshoot narratives.

The try-fail cycle.

Another common tool to use in outlining and plotting is called the try-fail cycle.

It adds a series of crises for your protagonist to contend with.

The try-fail cycle makes it so your hero must strive to overcome a series of obstacles and setbacks before making progress toward the Resolution.

The most effective approach to this would be to add these challenges after Pinch 1 to show an escalation toward the midpoint, and after the midpoint to serve as tests leading to the final crisis.

You can learn more about how to use the try-fail cycle here.

The Fichtean Curve.

The Fichtean Curve is known for creating a more naturalistic flow of narrative, imitating the unpredictable nature of real-life events and conflicts.

It’s often used in genres that emphasise suspense and tension, where the story is propelled by a series of crises and the protagonist’s responses to each new challenge (making use of try-fail cycles).

The frequent oscillation between action and reaction in the narrative helps maintain a high level of reader or audience engagement.

Rebecca Thorne’s 5-sentence outlining method.

Derived from a combination of the Snowflake Method by Randy Ingermanson and My Story Can Beat Up Your Story by Jeffrey Schechter, Thorne created a minimalist 5-point outline to help her plot with minimal effort.

It’s a little lighter than the 7-point structure (I still prefer the 7-point structure because it gives me enough plot points to work with without having to omit any turn) and can be a good tool for checking out a story idea.

The 5 points are:

  • Inciting Incident (5%) – this can be good or bad, but it always disrupts the status quo which you set up before this plot point
  • Leave On A Journey (25%) – up to this point everything has been going as the character has planned and this is the moment where they decide to make a change
  • Midpoint Reversal (50%) – the moment where everything your protagonist thought they knew gets flipped on its head, literally flip things 180-degrees
  • Beginning Of The End (75%) – everything before this has lead up to this point; your protagonist has no choice but to keep going
  • Conclusion (95%)– the final battle has already happened by this point and here you just wrap up what’s happened in the book

You can see her breakdown of this outlining method here.

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