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Wired for Story: How to Become a Story Genius

Lesson 16 of 17

"Aha Moment" Exercise

Lisa Cron

Wired for Story: How to Become a Story Genius

Lisa Cron

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Lesson Info

16. "Aha Moment" Exercise

Lesson Info

"Aha Moment" Exercise

You want to brainstorm, in writing, your protagonist's aha moment. What is that gonna be? This is a scene, I'm not asking you. You at home could write the whole entire scene and that is totally fine, but here, and even you guys at home, this is a much harder scene to write at this point, than writing the opening scene or the origin scene because you already dug deep. In the origin scene you were creating it so you could write anything. In the opening scene you had a lot of information so you knew already what was going to happen. We're now leaping way far in the story but you just get a basic idea of it. This totally could change by the time you get there but at least you're gonna have some idea of what you're aiming for. So what is that aha moment gonna be? What's gonna happen? And as important, what is your protagonist going to realize and why? That is what you're looking for. So, again, you guys at home, you're so lucky you've got as much time as you need. Here you guys know the dri...

ll, three minutes. Okay, ready? Begin. Yay, and that is the last exercise we're going to be doing in this course, so yahoo. So that probably was hard and probably felt very, very simple. Probably felt almost cliche at this point. Because that's what it is at this point. That point you're making, in fact it probably met up with one of the first things, in fact the first exercise we did which is what's you're point because that is where your story's going to make its point. So let's workshop two of them and as I said earlier in the prior lesson, let's do where do you think you're story's going to open? And then what is this aha moment? So we can see what that span is. Now again, you don't have anything between yet so that is fine. That is absolutely fine. This will help you then develop that. So, cause we've already gone all the way around I'm going to go into the middle. Do you wanna go, Samantha? Sure, I'll go. Okay, which one did you want me to start with? Start with, what do you think the opening scene is going to be and then what is the aha moment going to be? So that opening scene is my protagonist collapsed on the carpet of a dumpy falling apart rental house after loosing her home to foreclosure, feeling like she's crying out like I'm valuable, I'm worthy. And the backstory has lead up to buying a home subscription to home magazine when she was nine to build the home of safety. Yeah. And so the opening scene is having lost all of that. Right. And so the aha moment is she's finally, she's been having recurring dreams so dreams are a theme. Kind of the American dream, as well as the literal dreams. And so she finally comes to understand through this last dream that there is no idea, no dream, no vision that can save her. Which is this vision of home. Right. Nothing that can keep, no vision, dream, or idea that can keep her safe. There's only the living, breathing house where the landlord could walk by her window and look in on her private moment. So it's basically, I don't know if you want me to read any of it, but it's basically the aha moment of that sense of safety doesn't ever really come. Right. And so, and it's, there's something about the idea, this kind of clarified for me that's it's more about her idea and her dream of what that's supposed to be. Right. Versus landing in the reality of life that there's only the truth of her mother's death, there's only the longing of her dad's leaving, there's only this, her, here alive, precariously alive and there's nothing more valuable or comforting than that. Okay, and I would say and that's really interesting. The one thing that you, and again, that's because you're at the end so... And we started at the beginning, we have no middle and now we're at the end. So obviously you can't have built toward that. But the one thing that you're missing there, two things. One, in the beginning when you said she still feels valuable but I'm valuable. She's saying that ironically right? Like I don't feel valuable, I am, okay. So that's find because she's not feeling it. She wants to be but life is telling her she's not that's gotta really be getting her down. But when you get to the end, and what you wanna be careful of with dreams is that it's not enough for her just to have a dream, something needs to be at stake. There needs to be some external thing that as a result of this she's now gonna do. Doesn't have to be a big giant thing. But there's gotta be something we're building toward because we're not gonna go all the way with you if it's just about... the same way it's not just about the plot. It's also not just about, I don't feel worthy, I don't feel worthy, I don't, now I realize I do. Something has to actually happen. I mean, in other words, even if this is gonna be a dream it needs to relate to what's happening and now it causes her to make a decision that we know is hard and that's how, in other words you have to have some external component to it or we're not gonna go with you. And that external component has to have that ticking clock element. Meaning, again, not as hard and fast as tic-tic-tic in but so that we know where it's going. Maybe she's about to get kicked out of the house. Maybe, I mean whatever that would be there's something that we're going toward that if she doesn't make this change it is gonna have a major consequence to her. And that might be a major consequence and now she averts that from happening or a major consequence and now she can live with what that is. But if we're not building toward something like that we're not gonna go forward with you. And I just caution you, dreams are really hard to pull off. So I'm not saying don't do it because it wouldn't matter anyway. But just be careful. It's got to have the other. We have a hard time diving into someone else's dreams. But it sounds like, I mean it sounds like the basis of what you've got is really good. Sounds like you have a lot to work with there. So, now we'll do one. Is there anyone who really wants to? Yes, Bruno? You look like you did, no? Me? (laughter) Your face looked like, you looked like me. Sure okay. The opening scene is the eighth birthday party of the hero. He blows out the candles and he thinks his dream is come true. He's the center of the party of all his classmates. Two of his classmates get too rambunctious and knock over mom's lamp. Mom freaks out, and he blames his two friends and his mom for ruining his chances of being the dream of the center of the party. Ten years later, he's still friends with Ryan and Kevin. He's formed a rock band to be popular in high school, and his parents have let him through a beer party for his senior year because he's 18, in a state where it's legal. It coincides with homecoming but they promote it and all the kids from homecoming dance end up coming to the party. A thousands kids come. Wow, I hope they have a big house. (laughter) The catch is they only came for the beer and the band had kind of sucked. (laughter) And so after one beer they all left. They all turned their back on the hero. And the hero realizes that being popular wasn't all it was cracked up to be. The crowd wasn't there to support them and it was Brian and Kevin and his band mates and his mom that was there the whole time to support him. Got it. That's really the best part of the party is being with his friends. Got it, got it, now that sounds really good. That has a lot of potential. It's building toward that and building toward when he was eight and this first thing happens, you also want to take it a step back to why is being popular so important to him? Because that's the key question. That's the thing you want to define. That's sounds like where the misbelief comes in as opposed to, now once what you're talking about is how even though he's only eight at the first time he's already got that desire. So that's what you're looking for because that's what would be causing him to then blame everybody else. And just a quick question, how long does this span? Does this actually start when he's eight? Eight and 18. Eight and Eight... Those are the two scenes. Eight birthday and leading up to the 18th birthday party. Right but I mean, and this is a novel? This is right now a personal essay. Okay, yeah no because you want this stuff in between as well. And maybe you could write it without making it a scene but what happened in between. But I would really zero in on that moment where he decides that being popular is the key thing. Like what does that mean to him that he's willing to sacrifice all of this from when he's eight until when he's and it's all gonna come far. Sounds like it could be a novel. Sounds like a movie actually. It sounds like it has a lot of potential but it's this inner stuff and then what it costs him going forward that you would want to develop. But yeah, that ending was really well set. That is exactly how an aha moment might come so it's a great example of it, thank you. So perfect. So we have come all the way through. We are at our ultimate aha moment. Because you now have that basis of what you can go forward to write. Now I know here in the few hours that we've had together and you've had three minutes to write each exercise, that's not enough to go deeply into it. And I would say the same thing to you guys at home, unless you're watching this over a couple of months, chances are even what you've got now, you'll probably want to dig deeper. Because in terms of really figuring out what your story's about. Anyways we'll talk about it now, who your characters are, where it's going to go. There's a lot involved. There's a lot involved. Writing is hard, it takes a long time but it's so deeply worth it. Now what you've got, and I think this is what's fabulous, is you've got the basis of it. You've got the basis of what you're writing. You've got that story logic that's going to come from your protagonist's past and again when you guys are released into the wild then you can go and you can dig as deeply as you guys at home have already done and you have that too. But you know what you're looking for, and I think really the key thing is knowing what you're looking for and knowing what a story is. It doesn't mean you can't, even dare I say it, unleash your creativity, but you're unleashing it within the context. You're unleashing it within. You know what you're looking for, you know what's happening, you know exactly, you have some idea why some things are happening. You know what you're looking for and now you can start to plan. You can start to let yourself go. But, so the question is what do you do from here on out?

Class Description

Short on time? This class is available HERE as a Fast Class, exclusively for Creator Pass subscribers.

Do you feel like you have a book inside of you but don’t know how to bring it to life?

Lisa Cron has helped thousands of aspiring writers master the unparalleled power of story so they can write a novel or memoir capable of riveting readers!

In this class, you’ll learn:

  • What your readers’ brain is hardwired to crave in every story they read – and it’s not what you think.
  • Why writing a successful novel is not about having the innate “talent” that only a lucky few are born with, but something you can learn!
  • How to write a first draft that reads like a fifth draft, and cut down rewriting in the process.
  • How to become a more confident writer, and make whatever you’re writing now deeper, richer, more compelling, and able to do what all stories are meant to do: change how the reader sees the world, themselves, and what they do in the world.

This class is not filled with random, general writing exercises – rather each exercise builds on the one before it, giving you the tools to create a riveting story from the inside out.

Your goal: to build a novel (or memoir or screenplay) by first creating the material from which the story, and the plot, will organically begin to appear.

Writing a novel doesn’t have to be a daunting task. With this class, Lisa busts the writing myths that have held you back, and gives you a clear, concise, concrete step-by-step method to find your story and share it with the world! 


a Creativelive Student

A woman with a wealth of information to share and who is totally engaging. Lisa was like a really good book that you didn't want to put down. I watched this course over two days, eager to press the play button on the next lesson. Passionate but to the point, everything Lisa had to say was interesting and meaningful. I am just starting on my first novel and her knowledge and insights are invaluable. Highly recommend.

Lacey Heward

This was hugely influential to my writing. I don't actually think I knew how to write until this class. Lisa Cron is a great speaker and teacher. She is well prepared and does an excellent job getting through all the important material. Everything I learned in this class could be applied to a book, essay, and even possibly one's own self-reflection. Who doesn't want to understand the point of life's story? Cron does an excellent job of getting to THE POINT. I have already recommended this class and will reference it again and again as I write. Thank you!

Tracy Holczer

I'm going to go back and watch this course every time I begin a new novel. It took me six years to figure out how to write my first novel, discovering many of these concepts as I went. I can't imagine the time I would have saved had I been able to consider them more carefully before I began. I recommend this to anyone who is just starting out, but also, to established writers. Every book is a different house to build and this course really helps set down a good foundation.