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Writers Discuss: Pivotal Moments

Tags: #TSC:WD 
  • February 12

    A cliffhanger is often a device used to elicit an emotion, either from the reader or characters in the story. A pivitol moment is a point at which a character finds something to define, or redefine him or herself.

     

    Pivitol moments give characters with strong negative traits a chance to change, and they can be the first push that makes a saint fall into darkness. They are choices, traumas, and moments of unforgotten kindness.

     

    Why use them in writing? They make for good storytelling. They can tilt the momentum of a narrative and take the story in a whole new direction.

  • Member
    February 12

    Pivotal Moments

    I agree with everything that has been said so far. For me, those pivotal moments (whether in a story or real life) are all about change, and I believe change is what speaks to us on our most basic human level--largely because it is so unpredictable. Change turns worms into butterflies or can be the anvil and fire that refines us or it can be the avalanche that completely obiterates us.

    I don't think it's a coincidence that a lack of change is so frequently viewed as stagnation, and is often considered an enemy to our spiritual selves. In Walden Thoreau regretfully observes in his own behavior that not much time passed in his solitary adventure before a well-beaten path formed from his cabin leading to the pond--this was a man whose whole purpose in having the adventure was to break out of the ruts he had fallen into in society. It's pretty easy to replace old ruts with new ones.

    So, why pivotal moments?

    Because every person (even the boring ones like myself) has them, and more importantly, deep down on some fundamental level... wants them. I also believe that what makes these pivotal moments so pivotal is that they don't just bring about change, but a change of perspective. And if that's true, then a pivotal moment doesn't always have to be a monumental event like a death in the family or the birth of a new child. Big-time events of this nature are so large that they can't help but to act as a catalyst for shifts in perspective.

    But sometimes perspectives shift and realization occurs on a micro level: the moon you've looked at 20,000 times before suddenly jars something into motion... shakes things up a bit... and all the pieces fall into different places. I think this is what I like so much about really good haiku poetry. It's those little (and frequently mundane) catalysts that cause one's perspective to shift--sometimes in profound new ways.

    All I know is that a story or poetry that has absolutely no pivotal moments had better have an insanely good reason to do so--otherwise it will never speak to us ;D

    Cliffhangers

    As for cliffhangers, I agree with what everybody else has said as well. It's all about timing with cliffhangers, and cliffhangers tend to occur just before those pivotal moments (which might account for people occasionally using the two terms synonymously). I think what makes a cliffhanger a cliffhanger is that the pivotal moment that is about to occur is interrupted. It serves to highten tension, keeps readers hooked, and if ignored or left unresolved makes me feel absolutely homicidal:

    "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury. The deceased wrote a story in which a character the defendant has grown to care deeply about was placed in peril, and that peril was never resolved. I rest my case."

    *after 2 minute deliberation*

    "Your Honor, the jury finds the defendant not guilty, and hereby orders all copies of the story, be they in paper or digital form, to be destroyed" xD

     

    *edit--I put in some headers and whatnot to break up this painful wall of text... I apologize for the verbosity*

  • Member
    February 13

    ShinJin said:

    Pivotal Moments

    I agree with everything that has been said so far. For me, those pivotal moments (whether in a story or real life) are all about change, and I believe change is what speaks to us on our most basic human level--largely because it is so unpredictable. Change turns worms into butterflies or can be the anvil and fire that refines us or it can be the avalanche that completely obiterates us.

    I don't think it's a coincidence that a lack of change is so frequently viewed as stagnation, and is often considered an enemy to our spiritual selves. In Walden Thoreau regretfully observes in his own behavior that not much time passed in his solitary adventure before a well-beaten path formed from his cabin leading to the pond--this was a man whose whole purpose in having the adventure was to break out of the ruts he had fallen into in society. It's pretty easy to replace old ruts with new ones.

    So, why pivotal moments?

    Because every person (even the boring ones like myself) has them, and more importantly, deep down on some fundamental level... wants them. I also believe that what makes these pivotal moments so pivotal is that they don't just bring about change, but a change of perspective. And if that's true, then a pivotal moment doesn't always have to be a monumental event like a death in the family or the birth of a new child. Big-time events of this nature are so large that they can't help but to act as a catalyst for shifts in perspective.

    But sometimes perspectives shift and realization occurs on a micro level: the moon you've looked at 20,000 times before suddenly jars something into motion... shakes things up a bit... and all the pieces fall into different places. I think this is what I like so much about really good haiku poetry. It's those little (and frequently mundane) catalysts that cause one's perspective to shift--sometimes in profound new ways.

    All I know is that a story or poetry that has absolutely no pivotal moments had better have an insanely good reason to do so--otherwise it will never speak to us ;D

    Cliffhangers

    As for cliffhangers, I agree with what everybody else has said as well. It's all about timing with cliffhangers, and cliffhangers tend to occur just before those pivotal moments (which might account for people occasionally using the two terms synonymously). I think what makes a cliffhanger a cliffhanger is that the pivotal moment that is about to occur is interrupted. It serves to highten tension, keeps readers hooked, and if ignored or left unresolved makes me feel absolutely homicidal:

    "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury. The deceased wrote a story in which a character the defendant has grown to care deeply about was placed in peril, and that peril was never resolved. I rest my case."

    *after 2 minute deliberation*

    "Your Honor, the jury finds the defendant not guilty, and hereby orders all copies of the story, be they in paper or digital form, to be destroyed" xD

     

    *edit--I put in some headers and whatnot to break up this painful wall of text... I apologize for the verbosity*

    This is insightful AF. All of it. This especially:

    All I know is that a story or poetry that has absolutely no pivotal moments had better have an insanely good reason to do so--otherwise it will never speak to us ;D

    has given me pause about my own writing, particularly poetry. 

  • Member
    February 13

    Legion said:

    has given me pause about my own writing, particularly poetry. 

    I'm actually very glad to hear you say that. I was afraid I might have been pushing it with poetry considering the majority of writing I see is lengthy and impressive stories coming out of the story corner. 

    BTW--I've been impressed with the poetry of yours that I've occasionally stumbled across in various threads over the years :D

     

  • Member
    February 13

    ShinJin said:

    I'm actually very glad to hear you say that. I was afraid I might have been pushing it with poetry considering the majority of writing I see is lengthy and impressive stories coming out of the story corner. 

    BTW--I've been impressed with the poetry of yours that I've occasionally stumbled across in various threads over the years :D

    Poetry is an interesting beast. It's tough because it's a medium where every word needs to pull its weight and every word needs to be in the perfect order to deliver the greatest possible meaning. And if the poem itself doesn't tell a story, it should create a pivotal moment in the reader by offering a new perspective or provoking thought - exactly what you love about haikus! So you nailed it. It's like - here's this this thing we take for granted and don't even consciously acknowledge anymore that becomes beautiful again through a few simple phrases. And I'm fully guilty of not always adhering to those things, so I'm quite glad to hear you've enjoyed some of my poetry so far.

     

  • Member
    February 15

    All I know is that a story or poetry that has absolutely no pivotal moments had better have an insanely good reason to do so--otherwise it will never speak to us ;D

    I was actualy going to question the poetry part of this until I read what Legion said.

    And if the poem itself doesn't tell a story, it should create a pivotal moment in the reader by offering a new perspective or provoking thought

    I think most poems open a different chain of thought to a subject; whether it's an emotional one or just a different persepective on a subject. That being the case then I find myself agreeing...