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What Are the Different Types of Plot Points?

By G. Wiesen
Updated May 23, 2024
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Plot points are found at various times throughout a story; with each type has a relationship to the moment when it is likely to occur. The inciting incident or catalyst, for example, usually happens near the beginning of the story and gets the action moving into the rising action. This action is often moved forward through additional plot points, such as a “pinch,” which typically refers to the moment that a hero decides to face the threat in a story. The climax is then incited by a showdown or confrontation between the hero and his or her opposition within a story.

Events or occurrences that happen in a story to move the plot forward are called "plot points." The plot is not necessarily the story itself, but is often used as a map of events that keep the action of a story moving forward. Each of these events is typically considered a plot point, though not every point is necessarily a major event within the plot. Even things like characters telling jokes or meeting each other can be plot points, though they may not necessarily move the plot forward toward its conclusion in a discernible way.

One of the most common plot points is called a catalyst or inciting incident. This is the moment in a story that effectively starts the plot. Characters have usually been introduced, including the protagonist or hero and the antagonist or the force of conflict, often a villain. When the inciting incident occurs, the rising action for a story begins, as events start moving toward the inevitable climax of the plot.

Many different types of plot points can occur during this rising action, which describes all of the events that take place between the inciting incident and the climax. Characters can leave or be introduced, someone might die, and various goals can be introduced and reached throughout this rising action. Each of these events is likely to be a plot point. Somewhere within this rising action, the “pinch” typically occurs, which is the moment when a protagonist decides he or she will face the antagonist and create the climax.

The climax of a story is typically associated with one or more plot points, including the moment of confrontation or the showdown. This occurs when the two opposing forces within a story finally confront each other and the rising action comes to a head. Various plot points can occur at this climax, including the completion of various goals and deaths of characters. Afterward, one or more points may occur that detail the events after the climax.

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