In the next few weeks I’m going to talk about the story structure of The Hunger Games written by Suzanne Collins.
I really enjoyed reading The Hunger Games. It was the first book I picked up on my Kindle (funny how where and how we read books becomes attached the memory of the books, isn’t it?), and the structure of the story jumped out at me because the progress bar helps track story developments. I had just finished re-reading Story Engineering by Larry Brooks and I was amazed at how Ms. Collins hit every story milestone, sometimes in unexpected ways.
Mr. Brooks suggests seven story milestones for the layout of a story: the inciting event, the first plot point (1/4 mark), the first pinch point (3/8 mark), the mid-point shift (1/2), the second pinch point (5/8), the second plot point (3/4), and the climax/resolution.
I’ll go one further. The Hunger Games is almost perfectly divided into eight sections. Each has its own purpose, its own tone, and its own goals.
Spoiler Warning! In a story deconstruction, of course there will be spoilers. If you are planning to watch the movie or read the book yet, and haven’t, you will probably want to not read on.
In the first 1/8th of the book, we go through Katniss’s morning and afternoon. She tells us about her family, her friends, life in District 12. Lots of introductions, but also stories within stories. Hints of what’s to come by discussing what’s past.
The inciting event is fairly clear. Prim is chosen for the Hunger Games, and Katniss can’t let that happen. This occurs before the 1/8 mark, in fact, the whole sequence and even the first bit of aftermath happens in this first section. There’s still more setup happening, more characters developing and being introduced while she’s standing on the stage.
The next chapter is cleanly into 2/8 segment territory, and I’ll talk about that in my next post.