Eureka Moment

Susan Boulton

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A eureka moment.

Does anyone else have this happen in their writing? A single moment when you find a character or plot line that is the one element that will draw all the strands of the story together.

I have been working on an outline for a new novel. I had my main theme/plot line. I knew or thought I knew where it started and where it would end. I had my hero, and his heroine, the reason that draws them together, what separates them, and what brings them back together to fight the villain of the piece. The supporting characters, their fate, and how their actions/decisions affected the main characters, were all decided, or at least I thought so. I also believed I had my villain, and his reason for being so.

Wrong.

The eureka moment happened.

It began with the villain. His reasons did not seem right. I could not get him to fit into the story. Then I realised the villain was a victim as much as the hero and heroine. The real villain for his /her own reasons was using him. Once I realised this, the character of the real villain, their motives, and why they are out to destroy the hero and heroine’s chance of happiness fell into place. (Though it means writing a huge chunk about the origins/fate of this character.) It fits well into a chapter one, what has gone before kind of piece.

The eureka moment cascaded on, rolling up one supporting character. She was quite an important one. I found she was 1), not going to be old enough to do what I wanted her to do in the final section of the book. 2), elements of the outline smacked of child abuse, at the very least being ignored by my heroine, at worst, condoned. Not what I wanted at all. 3), the actions of the child fitted the character of another child in the story, one who would have his own reasons for his actions. The original girl is still there, but a minor character, more sad than abused, living with, and loved by her Nan. The boy, who would be seven at the beginning of the main section of story and eleven at the end, is now ideal. He will remember what happened, be there for helping the hero and heroine, as well as getting into trouble as boys of that age do. (This is not a young adult book, by any stretch of the imagination.) Just it fits the story line to have a child as an observer, and at one point a driving force behind the action, causing a reaction in the main characters.

The whole thing has jelled in my mind today. All the research I have been doing, small sections of writing, re opening scenes have come together. I now hope I can get the whole thing down pretty quickly, well two or three months of bashing away on the machine.


Sorry for the waffle, but as I said at the beginning, does anyone else get these eureka moments
 

HareBrain

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Seventeen years ago, I had such a moment whilst driving through heavy rain along the M27 - I suddenly understood what tied together everything in the book I was working on, including Atlantis, the War in Heaven, and the protagonist's relationship with his father. So mind-blowing was this idea that I thought it might possibly be true, and feared that a large black Mercedes might pull alongside my parents' Metro and barge me off the road for the temerity of having discovered it.

But no such teutonic carriage appeared, and the book was never finished, thanks to the diabolical forces arrayed against its completion, who confounded me with doubts as to the complexity of the plot. Such eureka moments are a curse, for by the discovery of such occult secrets are we made known to the powers who wish to suppress the truth of the world, and so they manipulate us to failure, whilst our ignorant brethren thrive.

(This anecdote and associate commentary brought to you by Cobra beer)
 

Sapheron

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I've had them. Often they leave me in staggered awe at my own insane brilliance.

Just as often they don't seem so great once I've sobered up.
 

Nik

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Sometimes it is as little as a serendipitous word that prompts a creative cascade...

Sure makes a change from beating paragraphs to death with recursive re-writes !!
 

Boneman

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Weirdly, I've had a couple of truly inspiring Eureka moments. One was when I was cutting the grass, and the other when I was swimming. It was easy to switch off the lawn mower and go inside, and write down the idea, but the swimming one was much harder, and I actually was panicking that I wouldn't remember it by the time I got to a pen and paper. Luckily I managed, and it inspired an incredible (to my mind) volte-face for my book, that still brings a tingle to the back of my neck when I think about it. All I've got to do now is write it.....
 

The Judge

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I recently had a doozy, courtesy of being instructed to come up with a decent sub-plot and over-arching plotline for a series of books. A non-descript mountain has become a live volcano, linking malevolent voices, near-homicidal anger, a VIP death, the moon, tidal forces, and even a pun for the title of one of the books.

Now, if only I could Eureka-ise the little plot difficulty over how some other people are murdered in an enclosed, secure cabin with no signs of foul play; not to mention how the good guys can detect an undetectable poison...

J
 

Nik

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Locked Cabin Mystery...

Um, you could try something 'natural' like a fungus. Stuff in some caves lodges in lungs and causes an unpleasant death unless recognised. Spray into cabin and allowed to fester...

Then there's those weird 'red tides' that cause neurological damage. Even working in a fume-hood...

And there's always anti-freeze in the water...

Carbon monoxide is notoriously lethal-- A blocked vent can be quietly fatal within hours. Blockage may be 'natural', but part may have been removed or allowed to fall away...

Um, can you tell I was an avid watcher of 'Medical Mysteries' series ?
 

Ursa major

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not to mention how the good guys can detect an undetectable poison...
Death would seem to be the most dramatic way (;)), but if you want (some of) them to survive, I'm sure you could think of something that will leap off the page.
 

The Judge

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Nik, Ursa, thank you both.

Carbon monoxide - ahh, the simplest ones are the best! As for the 'red tides' that is definitely something I am going to have to investigate as it fits with the volcano nicely.

I'm not sure I want poisons to be leaping off the page, or even saturating it... I think I'll have to start watching all the CSIs again to try and pick up some more forensic tips.

J
 

Ursa major

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Poisons - rather than words - leaping off the page, eh? (From now on, I'm never going to buy a book sold in a wrapper.)

Undetectable could mean anything, depending on the technological state of the setting. We can detect (as in know that it is specifically there) carbon monoxide using a detector. Not that long ago, there were far fewer reliable tests for anything much, particularly if you wanted a quick and convenient result. (If, however, J's word, VIP, is in the book(s), that would indicate a modern(-ish) society: my Compact OED records the first written use of VIP as being in 1933.)
 

mygoditsraining

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I had a eureka moment once, but in my hurry to get out of the bath and write it down, I slipped, hit my head and forgot it. :(

Most of what I write is a slow, slow grind to get the ideas out, and more often than not the serendipitous flashes will come as I write. I very rarely go BAMBAMBAM and pound out chunks of prose - it comes in little fits and starts as I go back and add things here and there or think "oh but I could put that there" and shuffle things around in the narrative. That sounds a lot like editing or revision work but it's honestly a big part of my initial effort that I constantly think about the framework of what I'm writing and almost not enough about what words I put down. Usually the first draft revision is spent re-jigging repetition of phrases or severe comma abuse.
 
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