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Writers Discuss: Pivotal Moments

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  • Member
    February 6

    Welcome to the latest Writers Discussion: Pivotal Moments

    It's been a while I know but the older members will remember we had a fair few of these discussions in the past. As we have a various selection of newer members I thought it best to have a few words and quickly explain what these topics are.

     

    These Writers Discussions are intended to give us all a chance to share ideas and suggestions on different aspects of story writing and they are open to everyone so by all means have your say in what you think and debate with the other members about the subjects. 

     

    Pivotal Moments. We all have them in our lives from when we leave school and college to switching jobs and meeting that ‘special someone’ in our lives. This being so, then surely our characters have pivotal moments as well…

     

    1 Why should we bother with Pivotal Moments?

     

    2 What makes a Pivotal Moment different to a Cliff Hanger?

     

    As before, if there is a subject which you would like to see appear as a writers discussion then by all means leave a suggestion in the comments.

  • Member
    February 6

    Why should we bother with Pivotal Moments?

    If I had to guess, which I pretty much am, I'd say it's because pivotal moments bring significant and novel emotional shifts. That is, some sort of event or series thereof causes the included characters to react and even change in some respect. I suppose that the pivotal event could even exclusively cause a novel emotional reaction in the reader and not necessarily the characters in the story. This may be particularly true in short stories, where pivotal events often show up at the end. Just as well, a pivotal event could be the introduction of the main plot. So for example, Montag stealing the book in Farenheit 451 is a pivotal event as it marks a change in both chracter and conflict. The pivotal moment in The Lottery was at the end when Mrs. Hutchinson showed her slip of paper to the crowd. All of the characters' reactions were familiar to those characters but it was a pivotal moment to the reader upon discovering what it meant. The pivotal moment in The Monkey's Paw could be the introduction of the paw itself, and arguably the results of each of its uses. Pivotal moments are those moments we keep turning the page for when we read. 

    What makes a Pivotal Moment different to a Cliff Hanger?

    Cliff hangers precede pivotal moments. A cliffhanger lets the reader know that something is about to happen, and a pivotal moment is the thing actually happening. Though perhaps a cliffhanger could arguably be a pivotal event? If a writer was particularly interested in torturing one or many of their characters, they might use an in-story cliffhanger that never comes to fruition to create a pivotal moment for the character. A classic example is someone failing to squeeze out a final piece of very important information right before they die, motivating the person who needed that information to alter their course and seek it out/seek revenge/blame themselves and turn to the bottle/heft the corpse to a nearby necromancer to attempt to reveal the last of the information. Things like that. 

  • Member
    February 6

    Cliff hangers precede pivotal moments. A cliffhanger lets the reader know that something is about to happen, and a pivotal moment is the thing actually happening.

    Ahh the 'cause and effect' scenario. Cliffhanger being the cause and the 'Pivotal Moment' being the effect. A bit like a guard on the wall feeling the cold. End of the chapter he gathers some wood. The start of the next chapter he lights it. A pivotal moment.

    I can see where you are going here Legion. 

    Here's my thoughts on the subject.

    1 Why should we bother with Pivotal Moments?

     Well, for me a Pivotal Moment is when everything changes in a story. All the character roles go through a change of one sort or another due to either a singular, or multiple chain of events; things which alter the world in which the characters live in; something which forever changes their way of life.

     

    A Pivotal Moment in a story isn’t necessarily there for the reader’s behalf; I feel this serves the story and the character just as much if not more. For the reader it can create a fresh look at a world which has, maybe started turning all too familiar and dreary. It’s a chance to shake things up and add new perspectives to our stories in ways we couldn’t before.

    Imagine for a moment if you will the city of Whiterun; or rather the plains…

    One such pivotal moment could be a pestilence spreading across the plains. This would have serious repercussions on the city:

    A lack of deer and meat for the town:

    This would put immense strain on the farmers as they try to compensate for the food shortage.

    Lack of furs:

    Horses:

    These would be under threat or even catch the disease as well; limiting supplies and travel. Farmers may have to till the earth without the help of beasts to pull their plows.

     Migration:

    Predators and prey would move to other areas upsetting the balance and threatening other settlements or even worse, spread the disease further throughout Skyrim.

     Such events can cause the destruction of a city; for the people of Whiterun this, to me, would be a pivotal moment in the city's future.

     

    2 What makes a Pivotal Moment different to a Cliff Hanger?

     

    For me this is simple;

    We could also say these are the same as a cliff hanger. Despite the fact that there are certain similarities though they do stand apart.

    A Cliff Hanger is designed to fuel the reader with excitement or dread; sometimes both. It is laid out to draw the reader to the next chapter with a need to find out what happens; a need to discover.

    A Pivotal Moment is the story shaker. It changes the story from what was, through what is to what will become.

    The difference is like a character finding out he/she is in dire peril and using a new shout to get out of it, (Cliffhanger); compared to a character finding out that they are Dragonborn. (Pivotal Moment).

  • Member
    February 6

    Sotek said:

    A Pivotal Moment in a story isn’t necessarily there for the reader’s behalf; I feel this serves the story and the character just as much if not more. For the reader it can create a fresh look at a world which has, maybe started turning all too familiar and dreary. It’s a chance to shake things up and add new perspectives to our stories in ways we couldn’t before.

    I like this point, it's spot on. Forcing the reader to view the world from another angle adds conflict and depth. Maybe someone we sympathized with before loses that sympathy, or the state of affairs of a large conflict turns out to be a little more grey than the pure black coloration it had before. I suppose this also comes back to the tone of the story. If the overall tone of the story is dark and dreary, a pivotal moment that introduces hope or happiness would be more impacting to the overall story, adding a contrast to the bleakness that a pivotal moment in-line with the established dreary tone would have lacked. 

  • Member
    February 6

    Maybe someone we sympathized with before loses that sympathy.

    That's a great point Legion which I never thought about. It could also go the other way. What if someone we were all against were suddenly placed in a position where they are the victim and not the agressor. The change and shift of alliegence to charaters. This can cause a massive change of heart to different factions and sides of a war. As you have said, it can drasticly add grey in a not so blatant 'black and white' situation.

    What if at the end of the rebelion the reader discovers that Ulfric started the war because he was sick of his people having to fight against the elements and snow while other cities like Whiterun had the best weather and farmland. There would be a drastic change of heart here... 

  • February 6

    YAY! Writers Discuss. And I am naughty because I forgot the Builders Discuss last week. :D

    1. Pivotal moments allow for character development. At least I think so. If a character never goes through anything, they don't grow. If they already know eveyrthing, they don't learn. These are what I call the "gamechanger" moments in the story and I like them. 

    2. Different from cliffhangers in that a cliffhanger is a specific situation. 

    I like the point you make above, Sotek. 

    *runs back to CB*

  • Member
    February 6

    Bloody hell where did Lissette come from?

    *Covers a pit with twigs and leaves then places a tempting treat in the middle of the trap.

    "Hey, Lissette! There's a sweetroll on that patch of leaves!!"

    *Sit's back and waits for the capture...

    Character Development is another good example of a Pivotal Moment. One such moment that comes to mind in my own story is where Sotek switches from heavy to light armor. His skills and development takes a massive leap forwards from that point. A pivotal moment for him.

  • February 6

    Sotek said:

    Bloody hell where did Lissette come from?

    *Covers a pit with twigs and leaves then places a tempting treat in the middle of the trap.

    "Hey, Lissette! There's a sweetroll on that patch of leaves!!"

    *Sit's back and waits for the capture...

    Character Development is another good example of a Pivotal Moment. One such moment that comes to mind in my own story is where Sotek switches from heavy to light armor. His skills and development takes a massive leap forwards from that point. A pivotal moment for him.

    Dude, you don't know me! You don't know me! 

    Honey nut treats, friend. :P

  • Member
    February 6

    Thought that was too obvious a trick so I left them in that hut back there.

    *grins evily....

  • February 6

    Sotek said:

    Thought that was too obvious a trick so I left them in that hut back there.

    *grins evily....

    You will not cappur me! *runs fast laughing as she looks back and then... hits tree*