A Turning Point is where our hero is presented with an opportunity, which will create a new, visible desire, and will start the character on their journey. If you refer to The Six Stage Plot Structure, our heroes are destined to experience 4 such turning points over the course of their story. Let’s take a look at Turning Point #1 as they are all a bit different.
Turning Point #1 presents our hero with an opportunity which often times takes the hero to a new geographic location. In the movie Shrek, our hero initially wants his peaceful swamp back. Lord Farquaad promises Shrek that if he rescues Princess Fiona, he may have his swamp back. This opportunity takes Shrek in search of Princess Fiona.
At times in a movie or novel, Turning Point #1 will reveal itself as an opportunity lost, thus creating a new and stronger desire for our hero. This is the case with my current WIP. At the start of Forbidden Signs, Terra and her longtime friend Con are about to embark on a romantic relationship. Following mysterious events at his 16th Birthday party, he abruptly ends their budding relationship without explanation. Terra’s new desire is to now investigate what prompted this drastic change of heart. As a reminder, a lost opportunity for your hero, along with several other devices discussed in Stage I, creates empathy and will help draw your readers closer to your hero.
When I first started writing this blog post, I didn’t have a clue as to how to relate Turning Point #1 to our everyday lives. More than likely I planned to write about Jordyn Wieber. While she lost the opportunity to earn an individual Goal Medal in the All Around competition, she still journeyed with her teammates to the Gold in The Team Competition. The mere definition of a turning point listed above happened in my writing life last week when I learned that I was a Finalist in The Maggie’s writing competition. There is nothing like a bit of positive reinforcement to light a fire under a writer. Since that announcement, I’ve been working steadily, if not obsessively, on my revisions. The desire to polish and shine Forbidden Signs for submissions is the same desire I had two weeks ago. Only now, due to an opportunity, I want it reach that finish line that much faster.