I’ve mentioned Witness (1985) before. You should really go watch it now, as it’s a textbook example of story-
In the movie, Harrison Ford is a good cop who harbours a bit of prejudice for the Amish. An Amish boy witnesses a murder and must be protected, before the killers and kill him too.
Then the boy recognizes one of the killers: a cop!
At the First Turning-
Your Second Act ends with, as you can probably guess, your Second Turning-
The Second Turning-
Notice how, at the First Turning Point, the stakes rise dramatically for the protagonist -
In Witness, that’s the Amish farm.
At the farm, Detective Book learns to overcome his prejudice of the Amish people -
At the Second Turning-
Again, notice how the stakes rise tremendously for the protagonist! He’s a cop who’s on-
The danger goes from ‘out there’ (external to the protagonist) in the Second Act -
The Second Turning Point is where you bring that danger from hanging over the protagonist’s head -
The setting also changes as we cross into Act 3. We go from idyllic life on the farm -
If Detective Book doesn’t overcome his internal-
fight for him and protect him at the climax. If he remains prejudiced, he will never succeed. It’s only overcoming this flaw that allows him to succeed in the end.
Witness is about the best film you can watch for learning about screenplay story-
Before you discovered this site -
I don’t expect you to have a story-
You need something to happen to your protagonist that dramatically raises the stakes, and preferably changes the setting in the process.
Something that dramatically harms the protagonist’s chances of succeeding in their quest.
In Witness, John Book is in danger, but he’s kept the kid safe (his goal). He’s winning.
But, at the Second Turning Point, he’s not winning any more. He’s now losing. The danger becomes much more immediate. The antagonists showing up at the farm change everything. His quest is now much more difficult to accomplish. Not only does he have to protect the kid, he’s got a team of policemen hunting him down and trying to kill him at the same time!
The danger is no longer intellectual or perceived from a distance -
So, that’s what you do with your Second Turning Point -
That means that Second Turning Point is often the place where the antagonist returns! That’s an easy way of raising the stakes and taking the story to a new level. The protagonist was fighting an antagonist who was some distance away -
Just like in Witness, immediately after the Second Turning Point, there’s the chase through the Amish farm followed by the final confrontation between the antagonist and the protagonist.
And, of course, the denouement.
Your Second Turning Point is what turns your protagonist inexorably onto a collision-
He has to face his fears, suck it up and either win or lose. The Second Turning Point leaves him no other way out.