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The Glass Menagerie. Now that we have an idea of the “forest,” it’s time to look at the “trees.” Here are the individual “parts” of a story that are usually called “plot points”: Point of Attack: The point where we pick up the story.The point of attack is simply where we pick up the story and it separates “what has goneon before” from “what will now take place.” It’s simply the first event of thepresent action in the story — the first thing that happens in the play. In most stories, important events have transpired before we “pick up the story.” Necessary information about what has gone on before the point of attack must be covered in the exposition. Exposition: What you need to know to understand what’s going on in the story.On the most fundamental level, the exposition gives you the necessary information about what has gone on before the story began (pointof attack), who the characters are and what their relationships are to one another, where and when the story takes place, and so on. In most plays, the lion’s share of the exposition is given before the inciting incident. This allows the audience to get a clear sense of “what we need to know” before we get caught up in the “what’s going to happen next” action of the central storyline. A notable exception to this is in mysteries, where exposition is usually given out bit-by-bit as we work through the story and are forced to constantly change our minds about “whodunnit?” and re-evaluate the situation with each new piece of information. As example, we don’t find out that Luke Skywalker is Darth Vader’s son — certainly an important factor in “what we need to know” — until very late in the story (the end of The Empire Strikes Back). Similarly, we don’t find out the most important thing that we need to know in The Sixth Sense— (SPOILER
ALERT!) that Malcolm Crowe (the Bruce Willis character) is dead — until the end. The Inciting Incident: The event that sets the main plot in motion.In all stories, something happens that changes the direction of the events inthe story and focuses them on some central action. It is important to recognize that the plot is driven by “action” – something that must be done – and not by themes or ideas. Themes or ideas arise as the result of the actions taken. Much the same is true for character. We know about and come to understand the characters are because of what they do. The Major Dramatic Question: The question that is posed by the inciting incident.The inciting incident also forms the major dramatic question, which is the obvious question posed by that incident. In a romantic comedy, the inciting incident is typically some variant of “boy meets girl” and the usual question is: “Will boy get girl?” In mysteries, the discovery of a robbery or murder leads to “Whodunnit?” as a major dramatic question. In Oedipus Rex, Oedipus promises to find the murderer