Principle #6 – The Power of Storytelling
Boring second act.
This has become a cliche, but why exactly can the middle of your story especially become boring and how can you beat second act problems forever?
Hi, I’m Diana, and this is Story Artist.
Welcome to another episode of the Story Artist Podcast, and we will be discussing principle number six of the Power of Storytelling series, and I hope you’re excited because many authors are afraid of the middle. And there’s really no reason to be, because if you can grasp the power of this principle and the simplicity of it at the same time, you will never again have problems with the dragging and boring middle – be it in novels or short stories. Even in emails where you’re afraid that people just skim over the middle of your email and never read the whole of it, and so will never understand the ending. Which technique is this powerful technique and the simple technique to beat second act problems?
This is the Turning Point.
Let’s define turning point first: A turning point is a time at which an important change takes place which affects the future of a person or a thing.
A Turning Point is an important change. So something has to change, and it has to be important. It has to have an irreversible effect on the future of a thing or a person. This is what it’s all about.
The turning point is about an important and irreversible change.
What are the big five?
Especially in the three act structure, we have the big five turning points that have to happen in order for the story not to become boring. But you can actually use the big five technique for every aspect of your writing.
Of course, if it’s a very short piece of writing, you cannot bring in five turning points in. That’s obvious. But you can still work with one or two or three of them.
But let’s discuss the big five that are classically embedded into the three act structure and see what they’re all about. You can use one of those and or use several of those and integrate them into every piece of content you do. Be it email, be it even a sales page, for example. Throughout the sales page you can work with those big five turning points, considering your reader as the hero that you take through this structure.
Let’s look at those big five turning points.
#1 The inciting incident.
It occurs roughly around the 10% mark of a story, and it sets stuff into motion.
It’s still not like the big, big turning point that is to come as the second one. It’s only something that comes before the turning point to keep your reader invested into the story, to hint to this main conflict. But it’s actually only a hint to the main conflict and brings in some new information or some change or some event that will get you here, towards where you want him to go to this second turning point we will talk about just right now.
It’s one of the smaller turning points of all those big five because the next one is actually one of the biggest and the greatest turning points ever, and it’s number two.
#2 First main Turning Point
The first huge turning point of your story and it occurs around the 25% mark of the story. It’s all about setting things into motion.
This is also called the point of no return.
So something happens and new information or a decision or whatever it is that happens that sets things into motion and introduces the main conflict and sets off your hero’s new journey that he cannot go back to.
And it marks also the end of the first act and the beginning of the second act. Or some people like to talk in four parts, not three acts. And it marks the ending of the first part of your story. Because in the first part we are in the ordinary world. We are talking about the ordinary life of your hero. And here at the 25% mark approximately, we have this turning point, this change that is the point of no return.
It changes everything. And the reader or the hero or whoever the hero of your story is, cannot go back to the ordinary life because something has changed and has set things into motion, has introduced this main conflict and brought your hero on this path, on this journey that he has to go right now. And this turning point is the main turning point.
That is the trigger, the main trigger for your whole story because if you look at how long the parts are, the second act is actually the longest act.
And in order for it to get interesting and to become interesting, you need the third turning point that occurs roughly around the 50% Mark of his story directly in the middle of your story.
You need to have a turning point that is surprising and that turns your story yet around yet into another direction, introduces something new, something unexpected. And if you have this turning point, your story will not get boring.
The problem with the second act is that there is no turning point.
People are just moving, something’s happening, but nothing turns the story around. And it’s quite difficult because with the turning point before, the second one that we just talked about, you set things into motion. You say, okay, this is the path and my hero has to go this path. And so to introduce yet another turning point in the middle of the story means we’ll have to get him from this path that you set him on.
This turning point is so important because it changes the way your hero looks at things. Consider it like this: so the first part, or the first act of your story is the ordinary world. The normal life. The second one, the second part, everything that comes before the 50% mark is the passive reaction of your hero. He’s just reacting to people or circumstances or whatever is doing to him.
So this major thing happened that set him off on this path, but he still wants to go back. He still wants to go back home. To his normal life. And he’s just reacting. But at this 50% mark, something has to happen that sets him off to be an active part, to take matters into his hands.
And I think this is why also many stories fail. Because in the end, we need an active hero, but he never reaches this point of where something happens that changes his outlook on this whole story where he says: okay, I’m going to act, I’m going to do this. Where he has this motivation to act.
Most of the time we never have this thing occur or it’s not organic. It just happens, but it’s not a major thing that we understand: okay, that’s his motivation for going from passive to active. So you need this turning point in order to get your hero from passive to active. And the same goes for when you’re writing a sales page or when you’re writing a series of emails.
You need something to happen or you present the reader was a new information or with something new that gets him from being passive and just listening to you and being maybe a little invested into your concept to: wow, okay. I want this! I want to be active. I want to do something. I want to be proactive with this, and I want to know how to do this.
And if you can manage this, it’s a huge thing. But don’t forget, this is not how the story ends. And I think this is a problem with many marketers, the end of the story with: okay, when the reader goes, okay, I want this. And this is where they end. But this is not the end of your story. There are still two more turning points to come.
#4 Lowest Point
And number four is roughly at the 75% mark of his story. And this turning point also marks the lowest point of your hero. So you went from being passive to being active, and he’s actually quiet and motivated and you think, okay, he’s going to do this. And then something happens that gradually, one by one, up to this terrible turning point, brings him to his knees.
And why do we do this? Because we need an emotional high to have an emotional low and the other way around. If you want this emotional highs to arise in your reader, if you want them to be glad, if you want them to have this tension, you need to introduce highs and lows.
This is what we talked about actually in the last episode and the principle number five: Pacing. If you haven’t seen it, go back and look at it. It’s also really, really helpful in order to understand emotional highs and lows.
And this is why I need this turning point where you bring your hero to his knees and showing him, okay, but everything is still bad and you want the reader to be asking: how’s he going to get out of here? It’s impossible. This is like the worst thing that could have happened to him and you don’t expect that, right? So you think, okay, right in the middle, he’s like the hero and he wants to go, and this is where the real adversity comes into place. This is where, when he’s motivated and wants to take matters into his own hands, you bring up the real adversity.
And guess what? With sales and with a sales page, for example, when you have this reader and he’s motivated, and he wants to take matters into his own hands, if you don’t bring up this adversity and this turning point, something else will.
So if you want somebody to buy your course and you’ve got them to this point where they say: Okay, wow, I want to have this; I want to do this; I want to buy this – something will come up that will, that they will face adversity, be it financial reasons, be it their spouse saying: oh no, we can’t afford this; do you really need this, can’t you do it on your own? And stuff like that. So you have to think of the possible adversities and present the reader with them one by one, and ending with the worst one saying, okay, how are you going to get out of here? And this is where the tables turn and you present them with a solution.
#5 Climatic Turning Point
And this is where we go to the climax of the story, and point number five, turning point number five.
And I think this is where many people forget that there’s actually a turning point due at the very end. They just go with the climax and that’s fine. And the climax is the rising of the tension, if we talk about sales and marketing, the wish, the desire to get this product, to be involved in this course and so on.
But you have to bring in a turning point yet again to get the reader to the resolution of this. And this is a turning point where all the facts are on the table. There are no open questions. Everything is out into the open. Every question’s answered, and we’re just realizing we’re seeing the big picture.
This is where we finally, when we look back at the whole story, we realize, okay, this is how it’s been all along. And I finally understand that all the tension in this final turning point is resolved.
So what kind of changes can those turning points be?
This can be a new reveal off information. So some new information enters the stage and we realize okay, it has been different all along if it’s a detective story, or a crime novel, you get new information from there and a whole new angle opens up to you. So this is mostly something that especially happens in the very beginning. Those first turning points are those points where new information enters the scene.
The second one is the turning of events. It’s a very obvious one. So something happens that turns everything upside down. Somebody dies, or somebody falls in love or somebody is betrayed by another one. So like something happens, some action occurs, and it turns everything for the main hero.
And a third one is a decision. So a turning point can also be a decision, definitely. It doesn’t have to be this major thing of death or betrayal. It can be a simple decision of your major character to say, okay, I’m going to do this. I’m going to do something that I’ve never done before and go away from my ordinary world, my daily life, and try something new.
So a decision can also be a turning point, but it has to be, obviously, it has to be motivated. It just can’t come out of the blue. So you have to set up this decision. A turning point can also be a reveal of character. Those are actually quite interesting ones. So if you’re writing fiction specially, you can reveal the truth about some characters.
So someone we thought was a friend is in fact a foe or the other way around. Someone who we thought was an actually is somebody who’s helping us and can be our friend . And you can do the same thing with the sales, if you’re talking about like say some kind of products or some kind of stuff.
Like when let’s say you want to sell something that will help people be more productive and be less distracted by technology. And first we think technology is the enemy. But in your argumentation, in your turning point, you say, you know what? Technology’s not the enemy, technology is neutral, and it depends on what you do with this. And it can also be your friend.
And it’s this kind of like a turning point where you start off with letting people think that something is like that, but then it’s completely different. And this is actually something that is reserved for the letter turning points in the climax and in the absolute low point, is the revelation of some deeper truth. Especially in theme, and we’re going to talk about theme later on with the principles, the revelation of a deeper truth is something that your hero understands in depth.
It’s some principle. It’s some system. And it’s actually I think also very important for sales that you let your reader and your customer understand some, some deeper truths, some principle you are building, everything you in your story, the story you’re telling, be it with your fiction, nonfiction, or sales.
Those are the things that we can use to create turning points in our stories. And I think this actually applies a lot to sales and marketing.
Don’t take your reader just there, but take them there with turning points.
Introduce turning points into your sales pages, into your marketing, your blog articles, your emails or email, your series of emails. Probably try to get away from this linear thinking. I think this is where we’re often stuck, especially when it comes to smaller things in content or to nonfiction and sales that we say, okay, I want to get my reader, my customer from A to B.
And that’s it.
We draw a straight line from A to B and we’re done. And this is why all of these things are actually sometimes so boring, and if you want to stick out from this, and if you want to do something different and get your reader through the middle of your sales page in the middle of your email, try to think in a nonlinear way. Try to think from, okay, I have A, I have B, and I want to get the reader, the customer from A to B, but I won’t do it in a leaner fashion. I will go from a to B to C to D to F to E, and then I’ll go to B. And I think if you just switch this thinking a little of okay, I’m telling the story, I want to go from A to B.
Yes, but how do you go from A to B? Don’t go there in a linear fashion. Instead introduce the big five, or if it’s a short content, two or three turning points and decide: Where do you going to introduce them? What kind of turning points they’re going to be? And how you can use them in order to still get your reader from A to B, but in a more interesting fashion.
And I hope this was helpful and I see you next time in the next episode. Thank you for listening and don’t forget to subscribe and to rate my show. If you’re listening on a podcast app or watching YouTube, please subscribe, please let me know in the comments if you’d like me to improve anything.
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