Lots of people are asking about the 7-Point System, especially about variations to it, so I figured a post on the subject was a good idea (also: easier than answering lots of different emails).
Here’s the simple answer to every question people have asked me: yes. Here’s the answer that actually makes sense: story structure systems in general, and this system in particular, don’t force stories to be a certain way, they describe the way stories already are. Take any story you want, study closely how it develops, and you’ll find all seven points, in perfect order. If the story becomes more complex, there might be multiple sets of seven points each (one for each character’s development, or for each subplot, etc.), but the seven point structure will still be there. There might be (in fact there almost certainly will be) scenes and events not included in the seven points, but the seven points will still be there. The seven point system is just a tool for crafting an effective story arc—like any tool, you can adapt it or tweak it or throw it out or use it any way you like.
So, for example, someone asked if you can have extra pinches or plot turns in a story. A plot turn primarily just represents a discovery or a decision, and a pinch is just anything bad that puts pressure on the characters, so yes, you can have as many as you want. They will not be, in my opinion, actual pinches or plot turns in terms of story structure—they won’t represent the same thing for the broader story arc—but you can and should have them, because a story that only has seven scenes or events is probably too short for anything other than a very short story.
Other people have asked if you can use the 7-point system for [insert genre here], and the answer is an unequivocal yes. Like I said, this system basically just describes the pre-existing patterns of storytelling, and can thus be applied to any story you want to tell. Applying it to something you think won’t fit, like a personal narrative or a non-fictional memoir, will actually help a ton because it will give you a strong sense of how to give your elements a sense of progress and an emotionally satisfying arc.
I’ve also had a few questions about series, and how the 7-point system can be applied to them. I’m actuall doing that right now with my Project Z, which is a proposal for a trilogy I intend to start next year. I already knew what my first book would be, but for purposes of the proposal I wanted to figure out the whole series. First I figured out what I wanted the story to be about (always the first step, at least for me), and then I brainstormed cool, exciting resolutions for each book, and then I brainstormed a resolution for the series as a whole. The trilogy will have it’s own 7-point structure, and each book will have it’s own 7-point structure that fits within it, so what I’m really telling is four stories (though the overall story and the third book story will merge together in a lot of ways).
Any more questions on this system? By which I mean, “any more questions on this system that can’t be answered with ‘this is a tool you can use however you want?'”