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Pinch Points

David Gane
David Gane
1 min read

In his book The Screenwriter's Workbook, Syd Field talks about pinch points in Act 2.

Although I never felt they were clearly defined, they're located in the middle of Acts 2A and 2B and "ties (the act) together and keeps your story on track."

A better hint at what the pitch point is actually in Blake Snyder's Save the Cat, in which he points out that the moment where All is Lost is a few pages after the Act 2B pinch point. All is Lost is the point where "all aspects of the hero's life are in shambles," and the hero experiences a close call with death, whether physical, emotional, or spiritual.

The pinch point is this: it's a pivot, a shift, from positive to negative, negative to positive. This shift can be:

  • characters in control ⇄ out of control
  • characters understanding ⇄ not understanding
  • characters winning ⇄ losing
  • light-hearted ⇄ serious

(I'm sure there are other versions you can find.)

Pinch points are another reminder that a story is a series of small pieces building into larger pieces. You don't attack the entire length of your novel or feature film but break it into acts, sequences, scenes, parts, chapters, or divisions.

Pinch points are the shifts from characters dealing with one situation and adjusting to different circumstances. There are structural to distribute the weight of the story.

Use them wisely, control the flow of action and information, and shape where your story beats lie.


David Gane Twitter

Co-writer of the Shepherd and Wolfe young adult mysteries, the internationally award-winning series, and teacher of storytelling and screenwriting.


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