Life is defined by high water and low water moments, twists and turns each etched into our being. Books are no different, good books. While reading, certain moments in the story can literally upend our minds and hearts. While writing, the successful execution of such moments develops the character, defines a scene, sends a rush, and makes the novel. Below are examples of some such moments.
Just prior to the climax you experience a moment of awe; the hero has a chance to succeed and you even have a feeling as to how. The key is the feeling. Perhaps something from the beginning of the book, such as a unique ability, stirs in the back of your mind. You begin to tingle with anticipation. The author had better come through.
The hero’s greatest ally suddenly dies/killed. Stricken you read on in a fog of disbelief. The sacrifice must not be in vain.
A major plot twist at the climax can make or break the story. Better to omit than deliver the obvious or the unbelievable.
The moment you realize the true stakes of the story.
The lovers are united/The lovers are torn apart.
The moment a story becomes fantastical (i.e., the laws of nature are abandoned).
You grok what the author is trying to say.
You unravel a mystery, solve a puzzle, or collapse upon a scheme.
The old standby; a mysterious character suddenly emerges as an unexpected ally. I admit I still like this one.
The situation becomes so dire you find yourself actually thinking how can this ever be resolved for the good?
Clearly there are many more moments that serve as watershed events in the life of a novel. I have listed a few that as a reader and writer I keep in mind. I hope writers will think in ‘moments’ as well as arcs etc.