Interstellar

Inciting Event: During a massive dust storm, Joseph Cooper and his daughter Murphy find an encoded message in a pattern of dust on Murphy’s bedroom floor. Cooper deduces that it’s caused by a gravitational anomaly, and decodes the message to find coordinates to NASA’s secret base.

Upon arriving at the base, they are apprehended by Dr. John Brand’s team. Brand reveals NASA’s plan to save humanity from famine caused by climate change by leaving Earth to find a new home. Additionally, Brand explains they plan to use a wormhole (theorized to have been created by more advanced, intelligent beings) to explore a distant star system of planets orbiting a massive black hole. Since Cooper is a former pilot, Brand invites him to pilot the spacecraft that they will use to travel through this wormhole.

First Plot Point: Cooper decides to try and save his children and the rest of humanity by joining the mission. He has a very painful conversation with Murphy about leaving, and he gives her a watch, promising to come back. She reacts bitterly and tearfully, however, when she realizes he doesn’t know when he’ll be back. Cooper leaves anyway, and the mission takes off, travelling through the wormhole.

First Pinch Point: Dr. Doyle, Dr. Amelia Brand, and Cooper decide to investigate a water planet that Dr. Miller had visited many years before. They find the beacon among the wreckage of her ship, but discover the planet is plagued with massive tidal waves caused by the nearby black hole (named Gargantuan). The team narrowly escapes the water planet’s enormous tidal waves to head back to the ship, but not before losing Dr. Doyle. The plot is successfully pinched when their ship is almost destroyed by the waves because its engines die, and they lose time to escape due to having to rescue Brand from being pinned by some wreckage.

Midpoint: When the team makes it back to their ship in orbit, they discover the fourth person of the team (Dr. Romilly) has aged 23 years during the time they spent on the planet’s surface. This is due to the extreme time dilation caused by being within the gravitational pull of the black hole.

Also, Cooper watches video messages from home, and finds out his daughter is now the same age he was when he left earth. After a brief debate, the team decides to visit the planet Dr. Mann surveyed next.

Second Pinch Point: Initially, Dr. Mann’s planet seems promising, but it’s revealed that not only was Dr. John Brand lying about the purpose of the mission, but that Dr. Mann has been driven crazy by hopelessness. The plot is pinched when Mann tries to kill the members of the team (and succeeds in Romilly’s case) and take command of their spacecraft so he can return to earth. However, he doesn’t know how to dock the small shuttle to the Endurance (the main spacecraft), so he accidentally causes an explosion that severely damages the spacecraft and knocks it out of orbit.

Third Plot Point: Cooper bravely docks his shuttle with the Endurance while it’s spinning out of control and pushes it back into orbit. He and Brand decide their best shot is to head to the last planet while sling-shotting around the Gargantuan. They decide to detach the unnecessary shuttles while doing so, which will allow them to conserve fuel. However, during the maneuver, Cooper reveals they never had enough fuel for all of them, and detaches himself along with the other shuttle. He steers his craft into the black hole in a desperate attempt to observe the singularity at its center so that he can gather data on it and send it back to earth.

Climax: Cooper’s shuttle is destroyed inside the wormhole, so he ejects from it. At first he drifts through blackness, but then finds himself inside a tesseract constructed by the beings who placed the wormhole. The tesseract allows Cooper to interact with Murphy’s bedroom across space and time, and initially he tries to use this to prevent the events of their mission by causing himself to not leave, but he fails.

Climactic Moment: Finally Cooper realizes he can communicate the quantum data of the black hole to Murphy, which he does by causing a gravitational anomaly that encodes a message with the second hand of the watch he gave Murphy before he left. Murphy finds and deciphers the message, and is able to solve “the problem of gravity,” enabling her to rescue humanity from earth and create a new home out in space. The tesseract collapses around Cooper and leaves him drifting in space.

Resolution: Cooper wakes up in a hospital on Cooper Station, one of the space stations on which mankind now lives. The doctor explains it is named after his daughter, Murphy, who saved humanity, and that they found him floating out in space. His daughter comes to see him, now very old and on her deathbed. She tells him not to stay, as no parent should have to watch their child die. Cooper leaves, deciding to take a ship out to find Dr. Amelia Brand, who is setting up camp on the last planet they were to visit.

(Submitted by Daniel Donithan.)

Sign Up Today

hwba sidebar pic

Sign up to receive K.M. Weiland’s monthly e-letter and receive her free e-book Crafting Unforgettable Characters: A Hands-On Introduction to Bringing Your Characters to Life.

Email: