I recently saw the second installment of the Hunger Games. Having read the books I was not surprised by the events taking place but what caught my attention; what made me say, “Wow, they nailed it!”; what made me get excited as a writer happened in the last ten seconds of the movie. I won’t spoil it for those of you have yet to see it, (not sure what you’re waiting for??) but I can assure you it had nothing to do with explosions, fire, or vicious baboons. It was a simple…ah! You thought I was going to give it away?
Often times as a writer I have to put my characters in perilous, tension filled scenes to draw out their inner character. The hidden part. The part that makes them scream, cry, love, or work. The part that makes them fight! And if a writer does it right, the moment happens loud enough for the reader to hear. CLICK.
Can’t think of any moments? Let me share some examples:
The Lone Ranger. Yes, even in the latest movie with Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer. There’s a moment when the law abiding, justice pursuing, lone Texas Ranger must decide whether to administer justice himself (avenging the death of his brother) or if he will let justice take it due course in the court of law. The CLICK-he puts the mask back on.
11-22-63. A fiction novel by Stephen King in which time travel has found a portal to transport an English teacher back in time before the assassination of JFK. As the character lives in an era of impending cultural change his mission is to decide whether the assassination of JFK was the catalyst to which all following failures of the United States hinged upon. The CLICK-Does he stop the assassination or not. Just in case you wanted to read this I opted not to spoil it-besides Mr. King does a fantastic job of drawing you in so that even YOU might not know the decision you’d make.
Let’s look at the other end of the spectrum. Some characters choose not to fight and instead they choose flight. Does that make them cowardly? I think not. In fact, I read the first book, Divergent, in the series (I have three, or soon to be three teenagers in my home-I need to be reading what their reading to stay engaged) and one of the admissions made by the main character is in regard to true courage. Sometimes fleeing is courageous. Choosing to turn away from a fight, remember not all fights are physical, can be heroic. Want more examples?
Mary Poppins. George Banks, a banker, lives his life in the proper manner. He works hard and provides for his family. But there’s something amiss. In his desperate search for a nanny to help tame his unhappy children what he ends up with is a dose of medicine so bitter he needs a spoonful of sugar to help it go down. When in the course of teaching his children the value of depositing money, chaos ensues and George Banks faces the subjugation and humiliation of his employer. The CLICK-he remembers his children. His fight for power, position, prestige mean nothing if he loses his children in the process and so he flees.
The Bible. Let’s look at Paul who was once named Saul and a fierce persecutor of Christians. It was Saul’s job to destroy the church. He imprisoned believers, pursued them to death, and even gave approval to the stoning of Stephan (Acts 7-8). But on a dusty road near Damascus a blinding light brought Saul to his knees. The CLICK-Saul became transformed and left the life of persecutor and became one of the most influential Christians in the history of Christianity. He fled the old life for the new and eternal one.
Life is about turning points and there isn’t usually only one in a life time. Every time the Lone Ranger sets out to capture the bad guys he faces the CLICK moment again, does he administer justice or does he
trust the system. Paul faced CLICK moments over and over again. Imprisoned for his preaching Paul made decisions to continue offering hope and encouragement in the form of letters. Chained for his choices the CLICK moments kept coming. Turning points aren’t always life changing. Some can be as simple as choosing to detox from electronics, or eat healthier. Some can even be funny, such as my children deciding to cook dinner-while good intentioned this turning point led to a smoky kitchen and a pan I can no longer use!
***What’s been a turning point in your life, if you’d like to share. Or maybe there’s one you caught in a novel your reading, or a movie you’ve just watched. My turning point…deciding to run my first marathon!***