…has to be when you get an insight into a story you’ve been tinkering with that is just so potent, so perfect, that it leaves you giddy and giggly and breathless. That is the best feeling I have as a writer, better even than when I finish a story or read one of my stories back or come up with a new idea. Don’t get me wrong, those are great moments, and more than enough to keep me working even in the face of self-doubt and fatigue and having to start over from scratch because those 25,000 words just didn’t work.
But the feeling that makes me sure I will never stop writing stories is the one that comes when I get one of those aha moments.
I had one today. In the parking lot of a grocery store, no less. I had to sit there in my car for a good three minutes just thinking it out, thinking it through, making sure the twist fit as perfectly as it seemed to on the surface.
What I love about this feeling is twofold. First, this kind of insight usually happens in an instant. They come when I am holding one idea in my mind and just tossing out others, and something just clicks, like two magnets or something, and it’s like those pieces of story were always meant to go together and I just hadn’t seen it yet. It’s synthesis in action, and it’s beautiful. Second, these moments generate so much enthusiasm for the project that they can be enough to carry it to completion.
In this case I had spent the morning hammering out a fairly detailed outline for my Awesome Heroine and putting both her arc and the hero’s into the 7-point structure, and I realized I was missing the crucial second turn. I knew what its outcome would be–forcing the hero to propose or lose her–but I didn’t know what that force majeur acting upon him was. As I was driving (because I brainstorm best when it is multi-tasking), I started scrolling through prior plot options I had entertained for this heroine to see if any of them might be useful for this catalyst rather than as the inciting incident. Lo and behold, in light of all the new information that had come to light in the process of starting and outlining her story, one of those old incarnations of her situation hove onto my missing catalyst and stuck so seamlessly that I couldn’t believe I hadn’t seen it already.
That’s what’s so beautiful about those revelations. Whether you’ve been working on the story two days or two years, the connection seems so natural, so self-evident, that you wonder how you never saw it and also want to dance with joy because you just figured it out!
And if you’re really, really lucky, the enthusiasm generated by the synthesis of your ideas will be enough to carry you through the writing of it.