Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The 5 Point Finale

I'm a bit of a plotter, and I really love thinking about plot. Problems with plot, to me, are what sink otherwise good novels. So zeroing in on areas of plot is one of my favorite things to do. I did this not long ago over on Roni Loren's now-dark Fiction Groupie blog when I talked about the All is Lost moment.

Today I'm going to talk about the Five Point Finale, a phenomenon discussed in Blake Snyder's fabulous Save the Cat books. The Five Point Finale, as you may have guessed, has to do with the big climactic finale of a story. Basically, it's a formula for getting them right. Most well-written stories have them.

Let's look at what it is. According to Snyder, it is:






Each of these points have further subpoints, but in general the hero of the story gathers people around him or her, then storms or defends the castle. A surprise waits for them, (the high tower surprise, thus named because the princess in the castle isn't there, or some other twist awaits), and then the hero must dig deep down inside him or herself to pull out his or her mettle, after which the execution of a new plan--and the ultimate win--can be achieved.

Because I use Star Wars for every thing (hey, it's well plotted), I'll use it for this. Let's look at Episode 4 (the original film):

1. Gathering the team: Luke gathers the rebels around him and they prepare to head off and infiltrate the Death Star, looking for the weak point.

2. Storming the castle: The rebels with all their red and yellow numbers "storm" the Death Star.

3. High tower surprise: All the rebels miss shooting the reactor, and either die or have to fly off. Darth Vadar appears on the scene and starts chasing Luke down.

4. Dig Deep Down: Luke must use the force and guide him to the hole in the Death Star that he'll shoot into. In this way, he has finally relinquished all his resistance to using or indeed even believing in the Force. He relies completely on it.

5. Execution of new plan: Luke pushes away his sight thingie, uses the Force, and successfully blows up the Death Star -- phew! Just in time, too!

Your story doesn't have to be action or sci fi to use this formula. It can be any genre and still contain this powerful emotional formula.

Have you used this for any of your stories? Is it too structured for the likes of you? Let's hear about it.


  1. Um...I'm exactly using this structure for my story right now. Right down to the storming of the literal castle. I'm glad to see that I've got most of these plot points down, at least.

  2. I'm not familiar with the Save the Cat books. But is this meant to be applied to all novels? I'd love to see how it applies to my favorite literary novels. It seems a little too prescriptive to have a wide application, but I haven't done much reading on plot.

  3. I received your reply via e-mail but don't see it here. Strange. But yes! Let's get together soon!

  4. I might have unconciously used it actually. That's good right? I haven't really done this plotting thing before. I mean, aside from going - Okay in this Novel they will finally kill the bastard! (and then get married) *giggles*

    :} Cathryn / Elorithryn

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