I’ve been thinking about defining moments lately. As an author, they populate my books. As a human being, they have shaped my character and my choices.
I’ve often heard good fiction characterized as real life without the boring parts. That’s very true, and both fiction and real life have defining moments.
Defining moments can be good as well as bad. The good — the day you know you’ve found “the one,” or the birth of a child. Some defining moments are obvious, like the death of a parent or when a loved one gets in a car accident. But there are some defining moments that come to you quietly in a crystallized realization while you’re simply taking a walk, or else they can seep into your bones when you overhear a conversation not intended for your ears.
The funny thing about defining moments is that they may not be honest interpretations. What if someone perceives a situation differently than it is? What if a misunderstanding causes someone to have a defining moment? It’s easy to see that happening in a child’s life: I didn’t pick up my room, so mommy and daddy are divorcing. That kind of thing.
A friend told me of a defining moment that occurred at the birth of her first child: “Oh, my goodness. I can’t die for at least 20 years.” The realization that flooded her brain shocked her, but then she knew it was because her dad died while she was a very young woman.
Margaret, my character in my current wip (work in progress), is slowly experiencing some defining moments that will eventually shape the rest of her life. I’m having fun playing with the way she comes to discover herself. After all, fiction is real life without the boring parts.