I have just completed your book, Growing Great Characters From the Ground Up and am greatly intrigued by the concept of finding a singular life-altering incident which defines and from which we can build our characters.
I found this idea so interesting and challenging that I decided to delve into my own childhood, since a part of ourselves is always bound to find its way into the characters we create.
I did enjoy your book! But I wonder if any of us are really defined by a singular event. Are we not defined and re-defined continuously by a series of important events?
My answer is yes, by which I mean there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to defining moments.
If we attempt to find our own defining detail or that of our characters, we'll likely come up with five or six very good options. What's important, however, is that with enough thought, one choice will rise to the top. Our task is to figure out why that detail lifted above the others, what that says about us or our characters and why that particular detail is absolutely necessary to telling the story we have in mind.
Thanks for the question, John, and happy writing to all!