Story Structure: How to Write Pinch Points [Novel Boot Camp #9]

The pinch points are minor plot points that occur in the middle of the second and third quarters. In this video I explain how pinch points are used to increase tension and to remind the reader of what the protagonist has at stake.

Video Highlights

  • There are two pinch points. One is in the middle of the second quarter, and the other is in the middle of the third quarter.
  • The pinch points should increase tension, raise the stakes, or remind the reader of what the protagonist has to lose.
  • The pinch points can be big or small, whatever suits your story.
  • The pinch points help keep tension high throughout the middle of the novel.

Questions to Ask About Your Novel

1. Does your novel have pinch points?

If your novel doesn’t have pinch points, adding them can really help to maintain the reader’s interest. The pinch points can also help avoid the dreaded “saggy middle” that afflicts many unpublished manuscripts.

Comment Question: Do you find that pinch points come to you naturally? Are you going to add pinch points to your novel?

***Workshop #2 starts next week. Make sure to submit your novel opening by Monday July 18th at 8am EST so you can participate in the peer critiques!***

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4 thoughts on “Story Structure: How to Write Pinch Points [Novel Boot Camp #9]

  1. Brett Mumford says:

    I couldn’t remember anything that would qualify as a pinch point in the first half of my novel. This has certainly given me an incentive to keep that in mind. I am a little concerned that the book slows down between the plot points. You have given me a lot to consider. Which is the reason I wanted to participate in this workshop to begin with. Thanks.

  2. Nicole L Ochoa says:

    I think pinch points come naturally to me, and from what I can tell, at the first and second pinch points in my book, it is alluded that the protagonist’s deceased love may in fact be alive.

    At the first pinch point, Sarah thinks a picture on an advertisement for a canvas shop in Canada looks somewhat Jeremy, but he is bearded and the shot is far away. She discounts it to the fact that she is returning home after being gone for a while.

    At the second pinch point, Sarah’s now fiance has found a clue that leads him to believe Sarah’s deceased boyfriend might still be alive and he has to decide if he will investigate it further.

    Even though I felt these points came naturally, it was a good exercise to find them and label them. Thanks for your videos Ellen, I am learning so much.

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