Lisa Cron, in her Story Genius course, states that your protagonist’s “aha moment” near the end of your novel is when the protagonist finally overcomes her misbelief. This is where your novel makes its point. A writer needs to know the point she is trying to make in her story to be sure each scene is focused on that point.
If I analyze my college journey experience, I notice that throughout my experience I am the mother of five children first and a college student second. My life has always been about the parenting of my children.
This brought me back to how my parents raised me and my brother and sisters. It made me reconsider deeply my father’s words in the origin scene. You can find my post on origin scene here.
“What makes you think you’re smart enough for college, Vic?”
Because Victoria struggled in her early education, her father felt he was saving his daughter from possible failure in life. Perhaps he thought he could save all his children from failure by choosing an easier path for them; a path, he thought, without unnecessary struggle; a path, it seemed, without a college education in it.
Victoria’s initial interpretation of the origin scene was that those who struggle in school should not go to college because they’d have a higher risk for failure.
But what if Victoria realizes near the end of her college journey that success in college doesn’t depend only on how quickly you learn but rather on your determination to succeed? Doubt and fear of failure are a part of life. Many people struggle to better themselves. Parents shouldn’t keep their children from attempting new and difficult goals solely to keep them safe from the risk of failure. We must realize our full potential, and to do this, many need to struggle; like Victoria does in her quest for a college diploma.
Maybe becoming a parent myself solidified my work ethic. Perseverance matters in life. Those who struggle early in their education learn this as they move through life. Perseverance can overcome obstacles. Victoria learns this through her college journey. She learns differently. Others may learn faster, but Victoria keeps chipping away at education and understanding of course material to receive her Bachelor of Arts degree from an Ivy League university.
The takeaway message to readers could be:
Effort counts in life as in college.
Don’t let fear and doubt keep you from your goals.
*In your opinion, which sentence encapsulates what Victoria has learned from the info I provided above?*
While researching concrete evidence about what Victoria learned during her ten-year college journey, I came across two great TED talks:
Angela Lee Duckworth defines “grit” as passion and perseverance for long-term goals.
And Dr. Carol Dweck speaks of a belief called the “growth mindset” and how we can improve in learning.
In memoir as in fiction, the protagonist needs to deal with her misbelief scene by scene by scene in order to earn her “aha moment,” that point in the story where the protagonist discovers that her misbelief is in fact a misbelief. This is usually an “internal realization” according to Lisa Cron in Story Genius, an internal realization that is prompted by an event in a fiction story or memoir. Thanks for reading.
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43 thoughts on “What is the Aha Moment in Fiction or Memoir #AuthorToolboxBlogHop”
"Don’t let fear and doubt keep you from your goals."
That one really sang to me, and it also carries a nerve line directly from the origin scene.
I agree with Jennifer. That one fit the best for me too.
The same applies in my genre of historical fiction, using self doubt as a way of bringing characters from history to life
Thank you so much for your insight, Jennifer! I truly appreciate it. It is always a pleasure seeing you here at Adventures in Writing. Have a great week!
This is wonderful. Thank you, Natalie, for your note here at Adventures in Writing. This insight truly helps me move forward in my memoir. All best to you.
Everyone doubts oneself once in a while, Tony. It does sound like a good way to bring historical characters to life. Thanks for your comment at Adventures in Writing. I really appreciate it. All the best to you, sir.
I think "perseverance matters in life" came through for me. Perseverance is what drives you past fear and doubt.
I'm beginning to think this a-ha moment is in all genres–mysteries especially. 😉
Anna from elements of emaginette
It looks like you've come full-circle, Victoria! How a negative feeling or thought turns into a positive one. It's a story with a happy ending, in which Victoria succeeds beyond expectation.
The sentence "Don’t let fear and doubt keep you from your goals" resonates best for me as well. A lot of people will get inspiration and courage reading your memoir!
As of now, I have many chapters where the theme or "struggle of the protagonist" is not really a part of, because I want to share other stories as well. Still struggling with the right theme, I guess. 🙂
A lot of the stories I write, I don't really think about the message I want to convey or what my character's a-ha moment will be. It usually happens naturally as I write and plan out the story. But now I'm wondering if the last couple of stories I wrote had this or not. lol I think some can be subtle and that's how mine are, especially when they're part of a series.
I agree, D.R. Thanks so much for offering your insight here at Adventures in Writing. It is truly appreciated. All best to you sir.
I would think so, Anna. Of course, I think the aha would be "whodunit" for mystery. Thanks so much for your comment on Adventures in Writing. Have a great week.
Maybe in your case, Liesbet, you should think more of what the point is to each story or maybe travelogue essay. What do you think?
Thanks so much for sharing your insight here at Adventures in Writing. It's always a pleasure seeing you here.
Ahas can be subtle for sure, Chrys. Usually there is some realization the protagonist makes after surviving the scenes you put her through. I love your stories, by the way. It's always a pleasure seeing you here at Adventures in Writing. All best to you.
"… success in college doesn’t depend only on how quickly you learn but rather on your determination to succeed?" <- No question. Just a period, please.
I agree with the others that "Don't let fear or doubt keep you from your goals" is the strongest statement you provided. However, is the piece more about overcoming doubt or not giving up? They are definitely linked but still different concepts.
I think 'Don’t let fear and doubt keep you from your goals,' is the one that best works. By going to school, you are showing that you want to succeed and you won't let fear and doubt get in your way.
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I vote for fear and doubt. If we let it win, we will never do what we mean and really want to do 🙂
Thank you for your insight, Erika. You make a strong point. My memoir about attending college as a mother of five is about never giving up on your dreams. And to do that, Victoria needs to face her doubts about succeeding, not let opportunities pass her by and finally realize that effort counts in her ability to succeed.
It is always a pleasure seeing you here at Adventures in Writing, Erika. Thanks for your pithy insight.
Thank you so much for sharing your insight here at Adventures in Writing, Michelle. It is truly appreciated. Man, I sure tried not to allow fear and doubt to keep me from attaining that degree. Thanks again for your comment. Enjoy your day!
You've got a good point, Victoria. But, I'm still hoping to integrate our experiences into a "whole", with an underlying theme. I might write another book one day, more of a travelogue, with the stories I'm cutting now and I didn't put in on purpose. It's all tough…
Thank you, Erika! Fear and doubt is so crippling, isn't it? Our job in life is to not allow it to keep us from reaching our full potential.
Always a pleasure seeing you here at Adventures in Writing. All best to you.
That's a great way to look at the "aha moment". Thanks for sharing 🙂
My second son has lofty, artistic goals that sometimes worry his very logical father, but I think as long as you know to pay your bills and keep plugging away at the dream- that's the good part of life. To me, working for love, not for money, is the true dream.
My pleasure, Ronel. Thanks so much for your comment here at Adventures in Writing. All best to you.
Yes it is, Elizabeth. Thank you so much for sharing your insight here at Adventures in Writing. It's greatly appreciated. All best to you and your second son. Bravo to him for attempting his dream at a young age. More power to him.
The third sentence resonates most for me. Great post! Have you read Roxane Gay's memoir Hunger? I really enjoyed her voice, and it's giving me ideas for essays.
I'll have to check out Roxane Gay's memoir. Thanks for recommending it, Raimey. Not allowing fear and doubt to keep you from attaining your goals sounds like a good point to make.
Thanks so much for sharing your insight and recommending a memoir here at Adventures in Writing. Enjoy your weekend!
Integrating our memoir stories as a "whole" with an underlying theme IS the difficult part, Liesbet. That's probably what's taking me so long as well. We will get there, Liesbet. And we will help each other.
All best to you!
"Don’t let fear and doubt keep you from your goals" is a great one! Thanks so much for sharing 🙂
Perseverance is a good one. It is also what makes writers get published. Memoir writing is all about perseverance in writing and getting through it.
Thanks for visiting my blog, Victoria. Would you like to exchange emails? mine is email@example.com . would love to hear from you. Love your writers toolkit. We learn a lot as we go, don't we?
Thanks so much for sharing this information.
Thank you so much for sharing your insight, Hoda. I truly appreciate your comment here at Adventures in Writing. Enjoy your weekend.
Hi, Clara! Thanks so much for sharing your insight here at Adventures in Writing. Memoir writing is so difficult because it all needs to be true.
Thanks for your e-mail. I'll send a note. Thanks for your kind words on Adventures in Writing. Have a great weekend!
I've always thought of that "aha" moment as the growth of the character, the realization of truth. As for your own observations, successfully completing a college education is not dependent upon someone else's definition of "smart." Plenty of smart people fail in college. As you note, perseverance is key, having a personal mission/dream/passion is necessary, assessing one's strength and weaknesses realistically, focusing on the goal are all parts that make up having what it takes to succeed in college, or in any other arena of life. You are making remarkable progress on your dream, in your own time.
I like 'Don’t let fear and doubt keep you from your goals,' best, although believing in yourself over the doubts of others is also a good message 🙂
Thanks for this post…so true.
Oh, Lee, thank you so much for sharing such deep insight here at Adventures in Writing. You are 100% correct. Our strengths come from within in order to accomplish our goals. I can’t thank you enough for all your insight.
Your kind words are truly appreciated. They keep me going. Have a wonderful week!
Yes, I also learnt some things here today. Thanks Victoria!
Thank you so much for this, Louise! “Believing in yourself over the doubts of other” truly is a great message.
Thanks for sharing your insight here at Adventures in Writing. It is truly appreciated. All best to you.
Hi, Nas! Thanks for your kind words. It's always a pleasure seeing you here at Adventures in Writing. Have a wonderful week.
Hi, Kelly! Thanks for your kind words. I truly appreciate them. And thanks for your comment here at Adventures in Writing. Have a wonderful week.
I think "perseverance matters" and "don't let fear and doubt keep you from your goals are two sides of the same coin. If you give in to fear and doubt, you cannot persevere. If you persevere, you will not let fear and doubt stop you.
I came upon your blog post while searching for folks using Lisa Cron's story genius method. I am starting a novel and going through the book page by page, but sometimes I get stuck! I have pinpointed what I think is my aha! moment, but having trouble figuring out what external plot action will get my protagonist to this moment. Hoping it will come to me if I trust and persevere and don't let fear and doubt get in the way of my goal to write this novel!
I have read Angela Duckworth book on grit. It is a topic that fascinates me. I write a blog looking at people's who've lived courageously to gain inspiration and understanding. http://www.marycronkfarrell.net/blog.html
Hello and welcome to Adventures in Writing, Mary! I'm so glad you stopped by. Yes, I took the Story Genius course with Author Accelerator. A truly difficult course. But creating stories is truly difficult to do, as you well know.
Persevering. That's what authors do to create their stories. I hope you have moved forward in your story creation. I'm in final revision of my college memoir now. Let's try and connect on social media.
Thank you so much for your comment here at Adventures in Writing. All best to you, Mary!