Every story has moments that are crucial or pivotal to the story. The moment where everything changes.
These are the best parts for the reader as they highlight so many different aspects of the characters in the story. During these moments readers experience realizations, decision making, unthinkable alternatives and so much more. What's even better about this? Pivotal and crucial moments can range from chapters to a single paragraph, and possibly even a sentence.
Now, as writers, this is something that we mull over for long periods of time. Tossing around various scenarios in our heads in order to deliver the best storyline for not only the characters but the story.
Where do these pivotal moments occur?
Where to place them-
Prologue- Sometimes authors will have a flashback to days, years, or even events that have taken place in the past to give the reader a clear picture of how the story or the characters start off where they do. This could come in the form of a childhood memory, a past experience, or an important exchange between two characters. Some way to show the audience that whatever happened here is what sets the stage for the story ahead.
Middle- When the arch of the story is about to hit its climax, this is a great section to place a pivotal scene. To be able to build the story to this point, throw in the twist or decision and then see where the pieces fall.
End- As a writer, I feel as if I myself haven't put that many pivotal scenes near the ending of a story unless an important chapter is closing for a character or I'm opening a door for another story, as in a series.
When you're not sure-
Readers enjoy riding the roller coaster of emotions and adventures that characters go on. It's the opportunity to see something through someone else's eyes without the risk, but all of the reward. When I'm not sure where to place a pivotal moment, I try to put myself in the reader's shoes. What would I want to know about this story as the reader? Or more importantly, What would make me upset as a reader? Thinking this way will make your story so much better.
More than I would like to admit, the story sometimes falls flat. Either the mixture of characters isn't right or it's missing something. This is a wonderful time to take a step backward and evaluate what you have written so far. One of the best ways to do this is to map out your story. What are the big moments? What do the characters struggle with? What characters need more struggle? Asking these questions will ensure that you figure out how to breathe new life into your story.
A moment of clarity-
This is something I have in my current contemporary romance. A moment of clarity where the hard truth is realized. It could be the smallest detail, but that detail could completely change the narrative. Readers will appreciate you doing this and coming full circle with some of the character's storylines.
The point is, as terrible as it would be in real life to suffer through some of the tragedies we make our characters endure, it creates a story that engages readers. As important as it is to give your readers happiness and joy, the key to a good story is pivotal moments.