Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Inciting Event: After arriving at Hogwarts after Voldemort’s Death Eaters made a debacle of the World Quidditch Cup, Harry and the others learn of the Tri-Wizard Cup competition. Even though there have been conflict and stakes prior to this, the Cup is this story’s main conflict, hence this is the Inciting Event.

First Plot Point: Harry’s name is mysteriously drawn as an underage fourth “champion” in the competition. Dumbledore and the other professors believe Voldemort is behind it, which neatly draws in the overarching series’ conflict.

This is a nice example of a First Plot Point in a series. Harry never physically leaves his Normal World, since he did that way back in the first story. But he does metaphorically leave the Normal World of this story, in which he has no chance of competing—and is thrust into the adventure world, in which he has no choice but to compete, basically at the bidding of his enemies.

First Pinch Point: The competition begins with a dangerous task, in which Harry must outfly and outwit a dragon. It’s really the danger here, more than anything, that is emphasizing the pinch. The start of the competition, obviously, is a major turn in the plot.

Midpoint: The Yule Ball takes place, in which Harry and Ron are flabbergasted to watch Hermione be the belle of the ball, on Quidditch champion Krum’s arm. This is a lovely scene and a nice event within the story. But it isn’t fabulous as Midpoint, since it doesn’t really do much to do turn the plot and doesn’t provide any major Moments of Truth that pertain to the main conflict.

Second Pinch Point: The second task pits Harry against mermaids for the lives of his friends—again, more danger. But the true pinch comes in the next scene when Ministry of Magic official Barty Crouch is found murdered.

Third Pinch Point: The third and final task in the competition begins. Harry enters a dangerous maze in search of the Cup. This is clearly the turning point into the Third Act, but we don’t get the low moment until quite a bit later (after the false victory in which Harry and fellow Hogwarts student Cedric simultaneously grab the cup in victory). Harry is transported to Voldemort’s grave, where his blood is used in a spell to resurrect Voldemort.

This is a killer low moment, but it does illustrate the fundamental structural weakness of this story—in that the structural points are all about the competition, while the climax ends up being all about the overarching conflict with Voldemort. It works, mostly because we accept this episode as an installment within a larger series, but it isn’t a generally good example of tight structure.

Climax: Although Harry’s duel with Voldemort is the most exciting moment in the story, the climactic turn actually happens when Harry uses the Cup as a portkey to escape Voldemort and return to Hogwarts. Once there, this story’s true Climax occurs, when it wraps up its main conflict: Harry discovers Professor Moody—who has been helping him win the competition—is in fact Barty Crouch, Jr., one of Voldemort’s Death Eaters in disguise.

Climactic Moment: Barty, Jr., is captured and the real Professor Moody is freed—ending this particular round of danger against Harry and the school.

Resolution: The students prepare to return home for the summer. Their goodbyes lend an air of finality to this story, while Hermione’s rightful conjecture that “everything’s going to change” hooks forward into the next installment.

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