Section 05 – Point of No-Return

Section 05

Point of No-Return


Step 5 is the step at which the Hero steps squarely into the Adult World, although still with an immature head and heart. He or she is at the point of no return and committed to the journey (‘crossing the threshold’). Childhood is now in the past. However, he is not an adult yet. because there are still obstacles to face before that.


This Step should reveal the following:



The Hero is fully in the midst of a different, perhaps dangerous, World. The home comforts of Step 1 are long gone. The story should bring out the Hero’s reactions to the Extraordinary World, especially to those things that would cause wonderment – and perhaps fear – in the Hero.


The Hero, in order to enter the adult world, must face tests and trials (in the following Steps) from an Antagonist figure and the Antagonist’s friends. This Antagonist has some reason for trying to prevent the Hero from growing up, but will not appear in person until later on. As in other Story Types, this Antagonist in a Coming of Age story might well not be a person as such, but rather a metaphor for any force obstructing the Hero’s growing up process.


Step 5 marks the first major turning point of the story. If we think of a story as having three acts, this is the transition to Act II and what all the preparation up to now has been about. Some teachers refer to the previous [first] quarter of the story as Exposition and this point as the beginning of Development.

Caution: Good stories never make the mistake of having the Hero appear suddenly in a new place for no obvious reason. They do not, in other words, change their plot at this Step. The plot must continue its logical progression.


The scenes in this Step should take up about three percent of your story.


* In The Go-Between, Leo is befriended by Marian, his friend Marcus’ sister, who asks him to take a letter to Ted Burgess, the local farmer. Leo, eager to please, accepts and is from this point on tied into the lovers’ secret world
* In Star Wars, Luke arrives on the Death Star, where he meets its crew and the Emperor.
* Harry Potter boards the train at Kings Cross station, and arrives at Hogwarts school, where he will begin the process of growing up.


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