First Pinch Point (Act 1 of the 3-Act Story Structure)

First Pinch Point

The First Pinch Point

The First Pinch Point is the point in the plot where the first “bad” thing happens, or the first red flag appears—the first time the bad guy shows struggles to surface or the moment the plot takes on an aspect that will manifest into something big later on in the story.

This is the part of the story where your character has to feel some consequence—pinch—of the conflict that’s ahead.

Some questions to ask yourself, about your own story:

  • What (limiting) belief haunts them?
  • Is there a bad guy in the story? What is he up to?
  • What bad situation happens to your main character that will result in a larger scale problem later on?
  • How can you foreshadow the antagonistic force that’s looming in the distance?
  • How does the antagonistic force impact your main character’s life?

First Pinch Point Examples

Mulan First Pinch Point
Copyright © The Walt Disney Company


The Huns are getting closer and they just won a battle.

Interstellar First Pinch Point
Copyright © Warner Bros


Cooper and his crew reach the point where they decide the second planet they go to. They’re searching for a planet that could allow humanity to survive. Their supplies only allow one more trip to a planet, and they have potential data for two planets. But there are many risks, a lot of uncertainties, and a lot of personal conflicts/stakes, especially when deciding which data and planet to choose.

The Hunger Games First Pinch Point
Copyright © Lionsgate

The Hunger Games

Because of her high score, Katniss has a target on her back when the Hunger Games start. Many tributes are killed on her first day in the arena, and she immediately has a real impression of what it’s like to be here and all the dangers it encompasses.

Avatar First Pinch Point
Copyright © 20th Century Studios


Jake, Grace, and the rest of the team go to a separate linking station because they don’t want to be monitored by the profit-focused people, who want to get their claws into Jake and get him to manipulate the Na’vi to move their home (as well as the corporal threatening Jake).

Beauty and the Beast First Pinch Point
Copyright © The Walt Disney Company

Beauty and the Beast 

Belle’s father flees back to the village and tries to find people to help him save Belle from the Beast. In the live-action movie (and not in the animated film), Gaston goes with him, but both Gaston’s end up thinking her father is just a mad old man. He treats him very poorly, which I always thought was contradicting, as he supposedly wants to marry this man’s daughter, but okay).

I hope you got some inspiration to write the First Pinch Point of your story!

Lots of Love,


Britt van den Elzen

Hi! I’m Britt, a 20-something creative entrepreneur from the Netherlands. I’m passionate about all things magic and can often be found dreaming about fictional worlds. The greatest love of my life is storytelling and I’ve been reading and watching stories ever since I can remember. ✨

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