Pivotal Moments

About ten years ago, I picked up a copy of Dr. Phil’s book, Self Matters (stop laughing…I was going on a long flight and bought it from the minuscule candy-slash-souvenir-slash-book store). This book asks you to go through three exercises. One of these is to identify the five pivotal moments in your life. The point of this exercise is to look at the times in your life where you were at a crossroads and made a decision that changed the path of your life forever.

While I’m sure you’re dying to hear about the time I _______, the point of this post is not to discuss my pivotal moments. Besides, I burned all the photos so you’ll never prove a thing! The point, my curious readers, is to discuss your characters’ pivotal moments. Why?┬áBecause, when you write a novel, your main character should have one during the climax. Note that this is not to be confused with their inciting moment which is the part that thrusts them into the conflict in the first place. Let’s look at an example:

While driving home from a party, Bill crashes his car and kills his best friend Ted (inciting moment). Bill turns to alcohol to drown his guilt and pain (conflict), but it’s not until he almost dies in a second car accident that Bob decides he must give up alcohol for good (pivotal moment).

As you can see, these moments are similar but they serve two different purposes. One starts the conflict of the novel and the other ends it.

So, what is your character’s pivotal moment?

Category: On Writing