Case studies, I think, are a great way to learn the structure of stories. So, let’s get down to business.
Warning: There are spoilers below. If you don’t want to know more about this story, you should stop reading this post.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Hook — The character’s starting point. This is the opposite of the Resolution.
- In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — The Order of the Phoenix are set to move Harry to a new location before he can be traced due to turning seventeen. They are attacked by Death Eaters and Mad-Eye is killed.
Plot turn 1 — The event that sets the story in motion and moves you from the beginning to the Midpoint. The conflict is introduced and the character’s world changes. This is basically when the character sets out on his/her journey.
- In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — At Fleur and Bill’s wedding celebration, they receive word that the Ministry of Magic has fallen into Voldemort’s hands and the party is attacked. Harry, Ron, and Hermione evaporate and ultimately flee to Sirius Black’s old house. This marks their leaving of their normal world and being thrust into the main conflict: to find and destroy the horcruxes in order to be able to defeat Voldemort.
Pinch point 1 — This is where more pressure is applied. This is often used to introduce the antagonist.
- In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Harry, Ron, and Hermione learn that their old professor, Dolores Umbridge, has the first horcrux they’re looking for in her possession. They will have to infiltrate the Ministry of Magic to get their hands on the horcrux, which they do. They have no way of destroying it, though, and because of the dark power of the horcrux, the friends argue, ending with Ron disappearing in anger.
Midpoint — The character moves from reaction to action. He/she determines he/she must do something to stop the antagonist.
- In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Everything seems to go against Harry—especially after going to his birthplace, Godric’s Hollow, where he is attacked by Voldemort’s snake, Nagini, in disguise as Bathilda Bagshot and having his wand broken in the escape from the snake—but then a Patronus in the form of a doe appears. The Patronus leads him to the sword of Gryffindor where Ron finds him. They destroy the first horcrux.
Pinch point 2 — This is where even more pressure is applied. The story takes the ultimate dive. The character is at his/her darkest moment. He/she has lost everything.
- In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Harry, Ron, and Hermione are captured by Snatchers and taken to the Malfoy Manor. Harry and Ron are imprisoned while Bellatrix Lestrange tortures Hermione to learn how she, Harry, and Ron got their hands on the sword of Gryffindor. They manage to escape, though, with the help of Dobby, who dies when saving them. Harry buries Dobby without the use of magic, and soon realizes he has to break into Gringotts bank in order to find a horcrux he is sure is in Bellatrix Lestrange’s vault. Seeing is how it is impossible to break into Gringotts, Harry makes a deal with Griphook—a goblin who used to work at Gringotts and who Dobby helped escape from imprisonment in the Malfoy Manor.
Plot turn 2 — Here the story moves from Midpoint to the end, the Resolution. The character gets or realizes he/she has the final piece of information to achieve what he/she set out to do in the Midpoint.
- In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Harry, Ron, and Hermione in the company of Griphook break into Bellatrix Lestrange’s vault at Gringotts. They find the horcux they are looking for and barely escape the bank with their lives. In a vision, Harry sees that Voldemort now understands Harry’s plan, and find out that another horcrux is at Hogwarts.
Resolution — This is the climax of the story. Everything in the story leads to this moment. Here, the character achieves (or fails to achieve) what he/she set out to do.
- In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — A lot of things happens at the end of this book because it doesn’t only resolve the conflict in this one, but also reveal the truth of subplots that we’ve seen through all the books. Harry, Ron, and Hermione arrive at Hogwarts. The teachers drive Snape out of the school to buy Harry some time to find the horcrux, and Voldemort and his followers attack the school. Harry then leave for Voldemort’s encampment, where he witness Snape dying because Voldemort kills him in order to make the Elder Wand truly his. Snape then gives Harry memories to view in a pensieve. Harry learns the truth about Snape: that he didn’t kill Dumbledore and that he’s been protecting Harry all along. Harry learns that he himself is a horcrux and must die in order to make Voldemort mortal. On the way to Voldemort, Harry tells Neville Longbottom to kill Nagini, the last known horcrux. Once Harry is face to face with Voldemort, he allows himself to be killed. After talking to Dumbledore in a pathway between life and death—a dreamlike location that looks like Kings Cross Station—Harry decides to get back to the life of the living. Believing that Harry is dead, Voldemort displays his body in front of his friend at Hogwarts. Neville kills Nagini, leaving Voldemort vulnerable. Harry shows himself, alive, and engage in a last duel between himself and Voldemort. Seeing is how the Elder Wand doesn’t really belong to Voldemort because Snape didn’t kill Dumbledore—the wand’s previous master—but instead belonged to Draco Malfoy who disarmed Dumbledore the night the Headmaster died and now, in turn, belong to Harry who disarmed Draco Malfoy in Malfoy Manor earlier in the story. Voldemort attempts a killing curse, but the Elder Wand refuses to act against Harry, who is the wand’s true master. The curse rebounds and kills Voldemort instead. After the battle is won, Harry uses the Elder Wand to repair his original wand that broke in the fight against Nagini in Bathilda Bagshot’s house, and says that he will return the wand to Dumbledore’s tomb, where it may vanish out of history. An epilogue then shows Harry and the others sending their children away to Hogwarts.
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There you have it. Hopefully it’s helped you to see how the Seven Point Story Structure works.
Do you think case studies of stories are a great way to learn story structure? Do you have any thoughts on this case study?
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The Story Structure Scrivener Template is designed to help you create and develop your story and its structure.
It includes a template for the Three Act Structure, one for the Seven Point Story Structure, and one for The Hero’s Journey structure so that you easily create or develop your story from the structure you like best.