Monday, June 22, 2009

The AHA Moment

Monday, June 22, 2009
There are those times when everything just clicks, but more often than not, it doesn’t and you have to go back and edit and rewrite and edit some more. But every time—okay, most of the time—you make those changes, it makes you a better writer with a better story.

I’ve been told that some writers map everything out before they even start the first paragraph. All of the research is done and the outline is finished and ready to aid them on their writing journey. I am not one of those writers. Maybe I should be but I’m too impatient. I think they call it flying by the seat of your pants. Well, my pants must have wings because that’s the only way that works for me—so far. Who knows? Maybe when I get more experience or at least get this first book under my belt, I’ll try the other method. (Probably not)

But how, I ask you, do they know how their characters will evolve? I go to bed thinking I know what’s going to happen next, then wake in the morning to find my heroine has decided that just won’t work for her. Most of my characters seem to have a mind of their own and who am I to say they can’t be who they want or need to be? They don’t like structure and they don’t want to be transferred from an outline to a chapter in their book. They want to tell the story in their own way and I feel very much compelled to let them.

Which brings me to the AHA moment, also known as Bartholomew 45-7 to some of my family members. Why? Who knows why we make up the things we do??? It started as a joke and took on a life of it’s own. But the AHA moment is when everything clicks and you know where you’re going and why. The story is telling itself and you’re along for the wild ride. I love the AHA moments! They are the best and the craziest moments in our lives, whether it’s when we’re telling a story, reading one or just living the story of our lives with the ones we love.

Please share some of your AHA moments. I’d love to hear them.

SIS Barb

24 comments:

Sisters-in-Sync said...

Flying by the seat of your pants... panster... flying into the mist...

That's me, too! Although I have to have a premise for my story and a feel for my characters, I like to let the story unfold as I go. The biggest thrill is when the characters takeover and lead me somewhere unexpected. The AHA moments are when the character does or says something that sets off an alarm in me. When a plot twist explodes in my mind or a secret about that character is revealed. AHA! I've had many of those moment and they always give me tingles.

On the downside, flying into the mist has also resulted into me hitting a wall. That's when I always have to stop and go back and see where I took a wrong turn. Still, it's an exciting process. And we're not alone...

"Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way." -E.L. Doctorow

"First, find out what your hero wants, then just follow him!" - Ray Bradbury

Great post, Barb!
SIS Beth

Sisters-in-Sync said...

Thanks Beth and I love the quotes. Brilliant!

And who knows, I may have learned my "panster" ways from you!

SIS Barb

Edie Ramer said...

My book is done, except for one more revision (I hope it's only one more!), and I'm still getting AHA moments. As I was watching a "Bones" rerun in which the character who plays Bones reveals why she's shut down her emotions, I realized why my hero seems unemotional, something I've strugggled with through the book. Now I have to let the reader know this at some point, so the reader won't struggle.

Richard said...

First of all, if "back home," Barb infers you were away for the same reason as Brenda, my heart goes out to you (all).
Secondly, since my OWN website is relatively useless, I'll try and attach a URL to my name when I post that's one of my favorite "I need to just veg" sites.
Third(ly?), of course, re: Barb's "AHA" post. Having never really written anything of length (other than comments on your blog!), I can't relate to your writers' "AHA" moments. I can say this is a talent I have always been in awe of -- the ability to breathe life into a relative non-entity -- though I have always thought that, by nature of the art, every character IS the author to some extent, and "AHA" is when (either consciously or subconciously) a part of yourself and/or experience leaves a fold of your mind and gets to the folds of your fingers. Which segues nicely into any of MY "AHA" moments;)!
Basically, facing ANY decision, be it what shoes to wear leaving the house or deciding whether or not to pack everything I own (or, hopefully, care to STILL own) into a trailer and motor halfway across the country to try something different requires that I draw something from within myself or that I've noticed in others over the years. In other words, going from "what do I do now" to "OH! THAT might work! I can do THAT!" reveals the bulk of my "AHA" moments. Those moments of "clarity" or "self-confidence" or whatever have resulted in everything positive that has happened in my life. And, in contrast, pretty much everything that turned out BADLY came from HAVING an "AHA" moment ... followed by a, "no, I can't do that" moment and ill-advisedly following the latter voice. Well, usually until I have ANOTHER "AHA" that tells me how stupid I was in the first place;)!
Have a good week, Ladies!
And, PS, Beth --- not just you. I usually have to submit twice to get a post accepted. Ghosts in the machine;).

Tori Lennox said...

I'm a major seat-of-the-pants writer. Which could well explain why I've had such trouble actually FINISHING anything. But lately, the AHA moment was when I finally figured out who my killer was. I still don't know WHY he's the killer, but I'm hoping that'll become clear eventually. *g*

Sisters-in-Sync said...

Hi Edie,

I am thrilled that you dropped by. Thank you so much. So funny that "Bones" helped you. I love that show and all the personalities.

I, too had the problem with my hero struggling. My online course really helped me delve into his character.

See you soon,
SIS Barb (Justen)

Sisters-in-Sync said...

Richard,

"draw something from within myself"

I love that! AHA moments happen to all every single day!

SIS Barb

Sisters-in-Sync said...

Tori,

Now that's really seat of your pants! Too funny that you didn't know who your killer was. Love that!

SIS Barb

flchen1 said...

Hmm... definitely not a writer, but occasionally I have AHA mom moments when I'm filled with the pleasure and contentment of being satisfied with our family and the journey we're on together. That does sound a little goofy/sappy, but often it's easy to be either caught up in the stress of the moment or anxiety for the future so it's definitely special when I'm instead at peace with life and feeling like "wow, we're headed in the right direction!" And some spontaneous kid hugs help :D

Beth Ciotta said...

Hi, Edie, and welcome to SIS! Congrats on finishing the book and good luck with revisions. Sometimes the revisions are fun because the hardest work is done.

As far as characters, sometimes it takes them awhile to completely click with me. The AHA moments are fabulous indeed!

SIS Beth

Beth Ciotta said...

"...a part of yourself and/or experience leaves a fold of your mind and gets to the folds of your fingers."

Oooh. I like that, Richard. Great observations overall. Thanks for sharing and you have a great week, too!

Beth Ciotta said...

Keep at it, Tori! Before you know it, one night you'll wake from a dream involving your killer and say, "AHA!"

:) SIS Beth

Beth Ciotta said...

Fedora... Your AHA mom moments make me go, "Awww." :)

PS: Did you send me your pic for a book and your mailing addy? If so, I didn't get it. Please resend to sis.bbb@gmail.com

SIS Beth

Sisters-in-Sync said...

Fedora,

I'm so with you on that one girl. Sometimes, lifes AHA moments are the absolute best. "Drama" and "Comedy" help me with that.

SIS Barb

Stacey Joy Netzel said...

Hi, Barb, very cute blog you all have here! I'm a loose plotter. Willing to take a detour if needed, but I like to have some idea of what my next scene is and the ending.

Sisters-in-Sync said...

Stacey,

Hi and thank you. Life is made of detours isn't it? I am envious that you know your ending. All I know right now is they'll get their happily ever after!

SIS Barb

Olga said...

I like to use the combination of both methods - the best of both worlds, so to say!

Sisters-in-Sync said...

Olga,

Meaning you have it mapped out but allow for changes? Does it always end the way you imagined?

SIS Barb aka Elle J Rossi

Olga said...

I know the starting point and the end, and then have fun with the ride. And yep, still sometimes I end up in a totally different place if it works out better for the book!

Anonymous said...

Love thos Aha moments! I'm a firm believer that they happen more than we realize and we never slow down long enough to realize it.

I'm working on a new book now and I'm feeling lots of ahas. I love it when things just seem to move. You feel the characters.

Great post.

Thanks,

Christie Craig (CC)

Sisters-in-Sync said...

Hi Christie,

I agree completely. Sometimes we need to stop and smell the flowers...so to speak.

Thanks for visiting,
SIS Barb

Beth Ciotta said...

Stacy, I, too, usually have a few key scenes in mind when I start--plus the ending. But more often than not, the ending alway changes because of the detours that took me there.

Thanks for stopping by!
SIS Beth

Beth Ciotta said...

Hi Christie,

Thanks for stopping by. All best with the new book. LOVE when things are zipping along. That's when I know I'm 'In the Zone'.

SIS Beth

sydney said...

very funny barb to bad that aha moment never came to me every time you and brenda told me bartholemew 45-7. I still don't get it!

your neice,
(:Sydney:)

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