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Exercise Wednesday: This changes everything

January 22, 2014

In various circles, it’s called an aha moment, that moment when you see something differently than you have before and it changes the way you see it from that point forward. I’ve seen it used to talk about racism, sexism, your parents, your kids, your job, and the way the world works. Billy Joel talked about an aha moment in his song The Stranger, when he figured out that he really didn’t know the women that he’d thought he’d known all this time–that she was really a completely different person and he’d be blind. Then he discovered that maybe he was the stranger.

We’ve all had them, though. Moments of illumination in which a new fact or viewpoint changed everything for us.

Aha moments have some defining characteristics:

  • The have to be about something important. For instance, no one has aha moments about Rice Krispie Treats.
  • The aha moment may be caused by something less-than-groundbreaking. It could be a subtle shift of known information into a new configuration.
  • The aha moment is typically uncomfortable.
  • The aha moment tells you as much about your protagonist as it does about the person or object of the moment. Why is this aha moment important, and what was stopping him or her from seeing it before?

Today’s exercise is to create an aha moment for a character–maybe not a protagonist. Maybe the aha moment is about the protagonist. Whatever the case, your character should not leave the moment the same person as they started. And they should have a core belief fundamentally changed when it’s over.

Time limit:25 minutes.

 

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