by Gary Fearon, Creative Director, Southern Writers Magazine
This plastic viewer, held up to the eyes like a pair of binoculars, let you experience genuine 3D images. Depending on which disc you inserted, you could see stereoscopic views of everything from the Grand Canyon to popular TV shows. Grimm's Fairy Tales and stories from the Disney archive were among the more popular titles.
As you manually advanced to each of the seven scenes on a disc, a tiny window displayed a few words describing what you were seeing. Which meant that an entire story had to be told in seven scenes.
Does that tell you something? What it suggests to me is that a good story can be broken down and told in as few as seven simple plot points.
Apparently the View-Master isn't alone in thinking this way. Numerous writing resources spell out classic seven-point outlines. There are variations, but here's a common breakdown:
1. The Beginning
A setup that establishes the character in his/her current circumstances.
2. Plot Point 1
An inciting event, a catalyst that changes the status quo.
3. Pinch Point 1
A personal challenge that requires the hero to take action.
At this point of no return, the hero is fully committed and proactively tries to fix things.
5. Pinch Point 2
The hero fails. At this low point an additional crisis makes it appear that all is lost.
6. Plot Point 2
The final confrontation with the antagonist. Most of the time, the hero will prevail.
This satisfying epilogue reveals how things are in the new normal.
Granted, a picture is worth a thousand words — and the View-Master showed seven of them — but the brief text that accompanied each slide told the same story in the sparsest words possible. When plotting your next story or pitching to an agent, think like a View-Master and you can stir your reader's imagination in vivid 3D.