Some stories are a moment in time, captured and played out like a piece of music. An introduction (maybe), a central section where all the notes are dispersed into the world, and into the finale, the wind-down.
There may be no other structure to a MOT story, but they are usually well understood.
A mother lifts a car up, tips it over as if she lifted ton weights every day, when her child is still inside after an accident.
A pet torments the owner until they wake up and smell the smoke.
A dog sits at the window and waits, and waits, and waits.
These are some minor examples of MOT stories. I could, and often do, play with these MOT bits to find the values of a character (usually a secondary character, because I can’t start a story without knowing the core values of the main character). Sometimes, it shows a very clear line to how people feel, why they do what they do. Sometimes, it takes a very deep moment in their life to show how they came to be who they are. Sometimes, I find nothing – and that’s one character that gets defenestrated (out the window – bye!). The person has to have some value to the story. They have to believe their role in it. They must, absolutely must, have core values that demonstrate something of the meaning within the story. They must be real.
Now please don’t tell me these people aren’t real. That they’re only made-up characters. They are as real as everyone, they come from my interactions with the world, and the people in it. All of them. All of you. Me. Every living thing, every book, everything I’ve touched, tasted, sniffed, seen, heard and imagined.
That’s why, sometimes, it can take so long to prepare the story. Everyone in the story has a reason to be there, a role to play in the path that leads – whether directly or not – to the end (which is not the whole-of-life end, just the end of this MOT).
Yes, even a novel, even an opus, is no more than a Moment in Time, because we can’t start every story from the moment our ancestor decided to walk on two legs; we can’t start every story from the first human – we start with ‘this’ moment in time, and we finish with ‘another’ moment in time. We choose this moment because it’s where the lesson is learned, or the journey ended, or the hand is dealt.
Every story is a moment in time, but choosing a MOT for the creation of a character motivation is a fun, fun, fun game. I do it when I need inspiration, when I’m bored, tired, hungry; when the current WIP is hard and draining … sometimes, just for fun.
Do you do it?
Yes, I watched the eclipse. Now I go back to work on ‘A Story’. Written for Fandango’s FOWC – Moment.