STORY STRUCTURE with BLACK PANTHER

Pantsers, plotters, and everything in between, get ready for the cheat codes to story structure with BLACK PANTHER gifs.

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Not only is BLACK PANTHER one of my favorite movies, it RESONATES in part because it has a perfect story structure. BOLD CLAIM. So what do I mean by “perfect story structure?”

A well-plotted story is like a well-written song. It has three key moments of tension. In a song, those moments are the chorus. Sing your favorite chorus!

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Every chorus mirrors each other, and each one adds intensity every time it’s repeated.

In a story, those three moments function the exact same way. In fact, you can figure out those three key moments the same way you write a song. In a song, you figure out the last/biggest chorus first.

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In a story, you first figure out the ALL IS LOST moment. What does it look like for your character to lose everything? 

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DON’T PANIC. Black Panther gifs will reveal all!

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ALL IS LOST moment #1

T’Challa fights M’Baku. If T’Challa loses the fight, he loses the throne. 

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This moment will be mirrored later (TWICE). And for RESONANCE, we’ll see several other elements that will be mirrored in the next two ALL IS LOST moments.

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T’Challa drinks the elixir that strips him of his powers. The idea is that this forces T’Challa to face all challengers as equals.

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Zuri is present to offer the elixir and the promise that T’Challa is the rightful king.

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Nakia is there, the most badass person you could ask to be on your side.

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Shuri is there, too.

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All of the tribes are present. (Well, sort of. But then yes. But then *plot twist* only sort of.)

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And look at this. The final moments of the fight take place over this gorgeous but deadly waterfall.

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ALL IS LOST moment #2

You might already see where this is going.

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T’Challa now fights Stevens/Killmonger. If T’Challa loses the fight, he loses the throne. Several elements are mirrored again.

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T’Challa again drinks the elixir that strips him of his powers. Here, we have a literally mirrored element. But it’s emotional beat is also mirrored. T’Challa will again face his challenger as an equal.

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Zuri is present again. And this time he breaks the rules to save the lineage, just as he did in the opening. He prevents Killmonger from killing T’Challa, and this time, Zuri pays with his life.

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Shuri is present again, too.

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And Nakia is there again, desperate to help but bound by a sacred code

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Look at what else shows up again. The gorgeous but deadly waterfall. And this time, it claims T’Challa.

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And let’s not forget Michael B. Jordan looking FINE!!! (that’s not a mirrored element, just worth noting)

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ALL IS LOST moment #3

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T’Challa faces off against a challenger for the crown one last time.

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The elixir is again mirrored, but with its reverse. This time, T’Challa will face Killmonger as the Black Panther.

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Zuri is not physically present, but he is there symbolically. Because after T’Challa visits the ancestral plane, he carries with him the legacy Zuri died to save.

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Shuri is present again, this time fighting to support T’Challa and Wakanda.

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Nakia now confronts her own fear and this time breaks away to fight for T’Challa.

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And this time, the location mirrors the waterfall, but with one key change.

The waterfall itself is mirrored. But rather than a deadly fall into nothingness, our glimpse over the edge shows us the beauty and glory of Wakanda.

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And when T’Challa defeats his enemy, this time, he now stands under a Black Panther statue, signifying that he is now the one true king.

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FYI: I only mentioned *a few* of the mirrored moments. Watch those three scenes and you’ll find many more!

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Putting it all together

My god. I’m ready to watch the movie again. Each of those moments carries such a powerful resonance because they deliberately mirror each other.

Similarly, when you’re looking at the three ALL IS LOST moments in your own story, consider following Black Panther’s structure. 

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1.    Outline the final ALL IS LOST moment first.
2.    Now outline your first two ALL IS LOST moments.
3.    Make them deliberately mirror the final ALL IS LOST moment.
4.    Of course, they need to be smaller scale versions. Context will tell you what to do.

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