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 Prisoner of Azkaban
Hook — The character’s starting point. This is the opposite of the Resolution.
- In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban — Harry sees on Muggle television that a prisoner named Sirius Black has escaped. Harry then involuntarily inflates Aunt Marge and runs away from the Dursleys. Just prior to leaving for Hogwarts, Harry learns that Sirius Black is a convicted murderer and that it’s believed that he will be coming for Harry to kill him. While on the way to Hogwarts, Dementors board the train and Harry faints, but is helped by the newly arrived Professor Lupin.
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 Prisoner of Azkaban — Harry learns in Divination class, through reading tea leaves, that a grim—the omen of death—is after him. This worries Harry as he remembers the black dog he saw when he ran away from the Dursleys. It’s been shown several times already that Harry is in danger at Hogwarts, the part about the grim symbolizing death highlights the danger Harry is in.
Pinch point 1 — This is where more pressure is applied. This is often used to introduce the antagonist.
- In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban — The Fat Lady who guards Gryffindor’s dormitory goes missing. Peeves reveals that he saw her fleeing after being attacked by Sirius Black because she wouldn’t let him into the dormitory. Because of this, Harry is put under heavier surveillance by having teachers walk with him through the castle etc. Though it is later revealed that Sirius isn’t the antagonist, he only wanted to get his hands on Ron’s rat (who is actually Peter Pettigrew, the real antagonist in this story).
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 Prisoner of Azkaban — Harry uses the Marauder’s Map (which he got from Fred and George) to sneak into Hogsmeade. Once there, he overhears Cornelius Fudge, Professor McGonagall, Professor Flitwick, and Hagrid say that Sirius Black was a close childhood friend of Harry’s father and that he is Harry’s godfather. The conversation also reveal that Sirius Black sold out the Potters to Lord Voldemort. Because Harry broke the rules by sneaking off to Hogsmeade, he found out vital information about his parents and his own past.
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 Prisoner of Azkaban — The grim appears and drags Ron into a passage beneath the Whomping Willow. Harry and Hermione follow and ultimately find Ron in the Shrieking Shack. Sirius Black is there as well, and it turns out he is an Animagus whose animal form is a black dog. It then turns out that Sirius wasn’t the betrayer and murderer—but rather it was the supposedly murdered Peter Pettigrew who’s been masquerading as Scabbers, Ron’s beloved rat—and that Sirius has been falsely accused of everything that sent him to Azkaban in the first place.
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 Prisoner of Azkaban — When Sirius and Harry talk about living together, the full moon turns Professor Lupin into a werewolf. Pettigrew escapes by turning into a rat again, and Sirius turns into a dog to try and keep Professor Lupin under control. Lupin flees into the Forbidden Forest after seriously injuring Sirius. Dementors come and attempt to perform a Kiss on Harry, Hermione, and Sirius. Just before Harry passes out, he sees a figure across the lake conjure a powerful Patronus that drives all the Dementors away.
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 Prisoner of Azkaban — Harry, Hermione, and Ron are taken to the hospital wing while Sirius is taken into custody, sentenced to a Dementor’s Kiss. In order to save Sirius, Dumbledore gives them cryptic instructions that Hermione understands. With the help of her Time-Turner they travel three hours into the past and frees Sirius. Lupin then resigns over his werewolfism and Harry receives a new Quidditch broom from Sirius
Download the FREE Seven Point Story Structure Template to use for your own story!
There you have it. Hopefully it’s helped you to see how the Seven Point Story Structure works.