Blog

Determining The Order Of Plot Points

Plot points share a common factor within complete stories.

We get mail.

This one came from a recent attendee of my Dramatica Guided Tour Workshop and concerned the movie for analysis that weekend, Dan Gilroy's phenomenal Nightcrawler:

Did we decide that Nightcrawler was Action driven? If so, why? I thought it was Louis' decisions to get a job by any means necessary which drove him to tabloid journalism. Which spurred all the actions afterward and ended on him deciding to kill Rick. If it was action, what was the inciting incident?

We never really saw Louis make the decision to get a job by any means necessary. If we did, and the Author focused on it, then perhaps it could have been an indicator of a Story Driver.

Unfortunately all the major plot points, or Story Drivers, that come after are Action Drivers: something usually happens that forces the news crew to decide whether or not to air the footage.[1] Bloom trespasses, alters crime scenes and withholds information--all actions as the story's Protagonist that propel the story into each Act by forcing decisions to be made.

Actions happen, decisions are made.

The final Story Driver, or Concluding Event, is the on-screen murder of his friend.

For a story to feel complete, all the Story Drivers--or main plot points--must be of the same type: either Action or Decision. The driver part of this story point is important as stories are filled with actions followed by decisions followed by actions and so on. Looking over the gestalt of the narrative though, it will become apparent that one forces the other to occur. In this case, Actions rule the day.

To answer your last question regarding the Inciting Incident--or what Dramatica would call the first Story Driver--Bloom happening upon the accident in the 405 near Wilshire starts the whole chain of events. Yet another Action. Without that drive-by, there would be no story.


  1. The conflict in the news room over whether or not to air he footage also explores the Overall Story Issue of Permission). ↩︎