Turning Point – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Screenwriting Glossary Terms

What is a Turning Point in Screenwriting?

In screenwriting, a turning point is a pivotal moment in the story where the direction of the plot changes significantly. It is a moment of decision or action that propels the narrative forward and often leads to a major shift in the characters’ goals, motivations, or relationships. Turning points are essential in creating tension, conflict, and momentum in a screenplay, as they keep the audience engaged and invested in the story.

How are Turning Points used in a Screenplay?

Turning points are used strategically throughout a screenplay to keep the story moving forward and to create dramatic tension. They typically occur at key moments in the plot, such as the end of an act or a major plot twist. Turning points can also be used to reveal new information, introduce a new conflict, or force the protagonist to make a difficult decision.

What are the Different Types of Turning Points?

There are several different types of turning points that can be used in a screenplay, including:

1. Inciting Incident: The event that sets the story in motion and forces the protagonist to take action.
2. Plot Point: A major event that changes the course of the story and leads to a new direction.
3. Midpoint: The halfway point of the story where a major revelation or twist occurs.
4. Climax: The highest point of tension in the story where the protagonist faces their biggest challenge.
5. Resolution: The final turning point where the story reaches its conclusion and the protagonist achieves their goal.

Each of these turning points serves a specific purpose in the screenplay and helps to keep the audience engaged and invested in the story.

How do Turning Points Impact the Story?

Turning points play a crucial role in shaping the overall structure and impact of a screenplay. They help to create a sense of momentum and progression in the story, as well as build tension and conflict. Turning points also provide opportunities for character development and growth, as they force the protagonist to confront their fears, make difficult choices, and ultimately change and evolve throughout the course of the story.

By strategically placing turning points throughout the screenplay, screenwriters can keep the audience engaged and emotionally invested in the story, leading to a more satisfying and impactful viewing experience.

How to Create Effective Turning Points in a Screenplay?

To create effective turning points in a screenplay, screenwriters should consider the following tips:

1. Make them meaningful: Each turning point should have a significant impact on the story and the characters, driving the plot forward and raising the stakes.
2. Build tension: Use turning points to create suspense and conflict, keeping the audience on the edge of their seats and eager to see what happens next.
3. Surprise the audience: Avoid predictable or clich├ęd turning points by introducing unexpected twists or revelations that challenge the characters and push the story in new directions.
4. Connect them to the characters: Ensure that each turning point is rooted in the characters’ desires, motivations, and relationships, making them feel authentic and organic to the story.
5. Use them strategically: Place turning points at key moments in the screenplay, such as the end of acts or major plot twists, to keep the story moving forward and maintain the audience’s interest.

By following these guidelines, screenwriters can create compelling and impactful turning points that enhance the overall structure and impact of their screenplay.

Examples of Turning Points in Popular Films

1. “The Dark Knight” (2008): The midpoint turning point in this film occurs when the Joker reveals his plan to blow up two ferries filled with civilians, forcing Batman to make a difficult moral decision.
2. “The Shawshank Redemption” (1994): The climax turning point in this film occurs when Andy Dufresne escapes from Shawshank prison, finally achieving his goal of freedom after years of planning and perseverance.
3. “Inception” (2010): The resolution turning point in this film occurs when Cobb finally confronts his guilt over his wife’s death and lets go of his past, allowing him to move on and reunite with his children.

These examples demonstrate how turning points can be used effectively in popular films to create tension, conflict, and emotional impact, leading to a more engaging and satisfying viewing experience for the audience.