Character Arc 101: The Moment of Truth - Writer's Digest

How to Find The Moment of Truth For Your Main Character

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This excerpt is from Jeff Gerke's book, Plot versus Character.

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To find the moment of truth for your main character, bring to mind your hero’s knot. You’ve got her “problem” already figured out. You’ve also chosen the alternative, the sunny land of promise she could get to if she lets go of the old way and embraces the new way. With this dialectic in hand, you’re ready to figure out your hero’s moment of truth.

Here are some things to keep in mind as you craft this all important

  • Make it fit—It (almost) goes without saying that the moment of truth has to be the collision of the two contenders in the hero’s life. You’ve got the old way and the new way. In your character’s moment of truth, she decides between those two options.
  • Make sure both options are compelling—Your hero is stuck in the old way, which is hurting him on some level, and yet it gives him something he values. The new way has to be at least as attractive to him as the old way, even if he doesn’t see it at first. It must give him everything the old way is not giving him, and it must solve problems for him—but not without cost.
  • Include the cost of purchase—The moment of truth is not complete unless the hero understands not only what he stands to gain by choosing one option over the other, but also what he stands to lose. If he lets go of his self-loathing to embrace a positive view about himself, it will be a betrayal of his father, who always said he was worthless. If she lets go of her fear and moves on with her life, it will mean risking failure again.
  • Provide smaller moments of truth along the way—We’ll discuss this fully in the chapter on the escalation, but for now just keep in mind that you will need to think of ways for these two opposing options to skirmish before the decisive battle. Just as Frodo had temptations to use the ring at multiple junctures in the story (and in some of these, he chose wrong) and as Luke saw the promise
    of the Force over the limits of technology, your character will need to make minor yes/no choices between these two options before the big moment of truth.

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