Wednesday, 30 January 2013

The Eureka Moment


There is this great moment when writing a story that you just want to stand up and yell, “Eureka, I got it!” like Archimedes.  He found his answer while having a simple bath and seeing how his mass made the full tub overflow.  Writer’s get their Eureka moment from a variety of things.
You can be plodding along trying to figure out how to get your characters from point A to point B without ruining it for the all-important reader.  It seems like you will never find a way.  You are ready to delete the entire project and start over from scratch.  Then suddenly, you know.  You just know how it can be done at it is amazing.  All that’s left is to write it.

For the book I am writing I used November and the National Novel Writing Month to try and get the last two thirds of my novel done.  I wrote every day, mostly in my notebooks at work between serving lunch and afternoon snack (I’m a chef at a daycare), and then I would type when I got home.  The last few chapters I wrote I began to feel that frustration that it wasn’t going the way I wanted to so I didn’t bother typing it.  Finally December came along and I still wasn’t finished.  I thought I would go back to the beginning and start my second draft without actually having an ending.  I knew basically what had to be done, but I didn’t know how to get Reid and the other’s there.

If you haven’t read RED ISLAND then you don’t know that in my book the point of view changed from Reid in the present to the killer in the past as he was growing up and becoming this monster killer.  For book 2 it was going to be the same, but alternating chapters were going to be the killer and his victims.  In my 2nd draft so far I have only worked on the Reid chapters.  I haven’t gotten to the bad guy ones and I’m still, honestly, not sure how they are going to go.  I was getting closer to where I stopped and it started to worry me.  How do I get them to where they have to go?  I did this the first time and I liked the scene, but it didn’t seem right.  What if I did this?  No.

Eureka!  I’ll kill this person off and go that way around and boom.  It’ll have a whole lot more impact.  And all that was while washing dishes at work.  It’s that amazing moment when you know exactly what you have to write to get to the ending. 

For me the best time these eureka moments arrive is when I’m not writing at all.  I can sit there staring at the computer for hours without a single idea, but five minutes into cooking something all the ideas fall into place.  That is why I love my job.  Cooking gets my hands and mind off of what I really want to think about, but once things are set there is a moment of clarity when I do my best thinking and writing.  Red Island was mostly written while working at the Urban Eatery in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.  Another time I have had a lot of ideas was when we were moving from one house to another.  I would work hard to get the truck packed and then while my wife drove my mind went to work.

For a lot of writer’s this is how their books are written.  Tess Gerritsen, for instance, usually doesn’t know how a book is going to end until she gets that great idea that locks the entire story together.  For all the writer’s waiting for the Eureka moment, just please don’t be like Archimedes who supposedly ran through the streets naked afterward.

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