The Act One Turning Point

We've been talking this week about Turning Points in story structure. Of course, the caveat here is that many stories don't follow a formula, or adhere to the classic three act structure. However that format does help to shape your story.

The end of Act One is one of my favorite points in a story. It's the point where the hero or heroine are thrust out of their ordinary world, and into the meat of their story journey. Often, this is a literal physical journey. The search for a ring. The boarding of a train to a magical school. The prison escape. That's the case in my first novel UNDER THE NEVER SKY. Both of my protagonists are forced from their homes at the end of Act One, and the journey is one of obtaining knowledge, maturity, and ultimately of returning home with it, a new person.

Act One can also be the launch of an emotional journey. Take Lauren Oliver's DELIRIUM. The Act One turning point, in my opinion, is Lena beginning to fall in love--love being forbidden in Oliver's story. It sets up the emotional arc for Lena, which is the heart of the story. A character can make an important choice, or have a circumstance thrust upon them. The point being that at the end of Act One, we know we're not going back. Things will never be the same again. Lena will always know what love is, and that will shape her every decision going forward.

When I write, I try to find both the internal and external launch at the end of Act One. I find it especially satisfying when the physical and emotional journeys enhance one another.

What are your thoughts on the Act One Turning Point? 


Even though, as a writer, I have an awareness of the three/four act structure, I never noticed it as a structural technique in stories as a reader. I suppose that's a clue to the great writing since it was a smooth transition to higher stakes as far as I was concerned.

As a writer, I understand the technique a bit better now.

It's true, Angela. I think in the best stories, you don't notice technique! Thanks for coming by!

I've heard it called "the point of no return," and you're right - there's no going back. It IS a wonderful part of any story. Exciting, scary, full of unknowns.

It can put a lot of pressure on writers to "deliver" what's been promised. (At least, I feel the pressure. Oh, am I feeling it....)

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