A Moment of Grace

These moments can be found in stories and movies, and often they are subtle, gentle, quiet. These are the moments that show a change, an emotional rejoinder, sometimes shows the character to be on this particular path. The moment of grace where the reader says/thinks: all is at peace; this is where we belong.

These are the moments we look for in life but have difficulty recognising because we’ve forgotten just how subtle they can be. Not so in a story. In a story it has to be much more obvious – to the senses of the reader, because it is the bump on the radar that awakens the need to seek this in life.

In story, the sense of the moment of grace allows the reader to relax for a moment, to feel that regardless of what’s to come, this is what it’s all about. To be part of it, to be encompassed by the world for the benefit of this small moment of connection.

That’s a lot of words for a normally short, quiet moment in a story. But it’s important. A breath, a reason to be, a sense of peace. We need it. The story may need it, but the reader is sucked in by it, and then, when the writer opens up the next scene to the relaxed reader, what do you think happens?

The big ‘turn it all upside-down’ bit? No! Why not? Because it’s safer to put a bit of distance between the moment of grace and a handstand. Because you don’t want the reader to throw the book at the wall when the character steps from grace to stupidity in two breaths. Because you need to work up to the next big thing, build the tension while the reader accepts the inevitability that things will change, of course they will, they always do – but not yet.

Give the reader that time to ‘feel’ the moment of grace, to accept the breath it gives, and ease into the next painful/abrupt/sudden change of course from the path.

Story is about a pattern of movement, and usually the movement of character through difficulty, but a writer needs to understand the moments between the big gulps. And the moment of grace is one of them. Not the only one, but an early one, and usually in the Second Act (Q2). Later in Act 2 (Q3) is the Lull Before Three (2nd plot point).

Hmmm, there are two of these quiet moments, but different in context. The first, the Moment of Grace, is there to be built from; the second, the Lull Before Three, is there to enable the character to bow to the inevitable, to consider the price to pay for the necessary actions.

And there you have it – two moments of story that are quiet but powerful.

And that’s my writing warm-up for the day, so now I go to work on the WIP (yes, yes, the late one!).

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