During a character development workshop I taught last week at Ink Spell Books in Half Moon Bay, CA, writer David Hirzel had an ah-ha moment he told me about after the event, then again in an email the next day, the revelation that impressive:
I knew there was a story here, I wrote the first page of it (as I told you) and had an idea where to go with it, but didn't know how to give that idea life.
The notion of Defining Detail, and greatest strength-greatest weakness-greatest fear, was what was needed to turn Corrie from an idea (based on a real person, who no one in my family ever met) into a person. I didn't know until I sat down at the keys tonight, what the defining detail was.
He goes on to explain the moment of epiphany regarding his story and ends with:
I thought you would be interested to see a defining detail at the moment of its generation.
When I first met my husband, a physics major, he introduced me to the concept of gestalt, German word meaning essence or shape of an entity's complete form, or as my husband says, "when the lightbulb goes off."
That moment of revelation expressed by David is what I wish for all writers and is the number one reason I write. Number one. The experience is almost sensory, in that you can hear the pieces click into place. I had such a moment this afternoon when working on my own book.
I suspect ah-ha moments can only happen when we allow cause and effect to happen naturally. Rather than forcing a certain conclusion, we step back to see what grows naturally from the moment before.
That's my theory. What's yours?
Lastly, in celebration of these brief moments of enlightenment, I've posted a new work by GGW member Ara Hagopian, Embrace.