WRITER’S EDGE: Point of No Return

Steve Kaire is a Screenwriter/Pitchman who’s sold 8 projects to the major studios without representation. Follow Steve on Twitter @SteveKaire.

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The point of no return represents the precise spot in a screenplay where the major character takes a new and unplanned direction. He or she makes a decision or takes an action that is irrevocable. It forever alters his situation and there’s no turning back from it.Point of No ReturnIn Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather, the point of no return is obvious and clear. Michael Corleone has been up to that point a war hero and considered to be a civilian in his mob family. He prides himself on telling his bride-to-be that he’s not part of the family business. But after a failed attempt on his father’s life, he makes the crucial decision to kill the mobster who tried to kill his father along with the police captain who is protecting him.

Once Michael makes that decision and successfully carries it out, he eventually becomes the head of the Corleone family crime empire. His point of no return also lets the audience know that he is capable of committing murder and do whatever else is necessary for him to achieve his goals.

Every screenplay needs this plot point that sets the hero off on an unpredictable path to try and achieve his goal.