Movie: Directed by Steven Spielberg.

Inciting Event: In the aftermath of the Black September hostage-taking and slayings of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics, Mossad desk jockey Avner is recruited for a black-ops mission: slay European-based backers of the raid.

Note how even though the Black September atrocity undeniably starts the plot, it is not until halfway through the First Act that the protagonist is drawn into the conflict. This is why Avner’s scene is the Inciting Event and not the raid itself.

First Plot Point: Avner and his team make their first kill. They are nervous and barely pull it off. These men were not killers, and now they are. They have crossed the divide. They have left their Normal World behind forever. There is no going back on the mission and no going back to the men they once were.

First Pinch Point: The terrorists respond with counterattacks of their own (mentioned very briefly, almost as background information). Meanwhile, the team goes after their third target by planting a bomb in his hotel room. The bomb turns out to have been tampered with, making it much stronger than it should have been. It nearly kills Anwar in the next room.

This isn’t a particularly obvious pinch, but there’s a lot going on here. First, we have the background response from the antagonists, then we have the threat to Anwar’s life, which also emphasizes the fact that their contact who supplied the explosives is untrustworthy, and finally the loss of innocent life in the explosion hammers home Anwar’s increasing doubt about their mission.

Midpoint: Anwar and his team gain info about the third highest officer in the Palestinian government. They coerce permission into taking part in the raid, even though it is out of their “jurisdiction” in Beirut. This angers their contact, who supplied the name and location. This isn’t a particularly clear switch from reaction, or a particularly insightful Moment of Truth.

Second Pinch Point: Their contact dumps them into the same safehouse with a group of Palestinians. After bluffing their way out, they end up in a shootout in the street, killing men they had talked to peaceably only hours before. This again emphasizes the antagonism of the contact and the disturbing nature of the acts Anwar and his crew are now having to commit to fulfill their mission. It also heightens the growing conflict amongst themselves.

Third Plot Point: After learning from his contact that he and his team are being hunted in return, Anwar finds one of his partners murdered in his bed. He and the remaining team members track down their first unauthorized kill—the woman responsible—and execute her.

Climax: Anwar and his one remaining team member go after the top name on their list—but fail when the alarm is sounded early. Anwar leaves the service.

Climactic Moment: The Climactic Moment here is a bit hard to nail down, since the gist of the Resolution is that the conflict never ends. The personal consequences go on and on for Anwar, just as does the battle between Israelis and Palestinians. However, I’m calling his return to his family the Climactic Moment, since it brings the conflict full circle from the Inciting Event where he was recruited.

Resolution: Anwar descends into paranoia and PTSD.

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.