• Jabe Stafford

Write Good Moments

Write Good: An Absurd Storytelling & Adventure Blog


“There is no such thing as happiness. Only moments of happiness.”

What brings moments? Books, stories, movies, comics, and storytelling in ALL its forms.

Happy moments. Holy-shiz moments. Laugh-your-rump-off-in-public moments. Tear-jerker moments.

Ya don’t get those specific moments anywhere else. At work, it’s the same ol’ do-what-the-boss-says moments that grate at you like you’re the gouda and the world’s holding the grater. If you’re writing or reading moments you could do without like that, then DO WITHOUT THEM! At least in your writing. Get those moments built in your writing and learn to recognize how other writers built their moments. (Sick of that word yet?)

Readers squee and say, “I remember that part where…” for a few huuuuuuuuuuuge reasons. Some shiz went wrong and the reaction to it—or the how the thing they remember kersploded—sticks out in people’s minds. If it wasn’t what went wrong, then it was what went hilariously right or what went too dadgum well to be coincidence that makes readers crap their minds. The BOOM that goes off in their brains could also be because of the timing of the moment, and as a writer, you have a whole guncha buncha control over setting up timing in your story. You’re writing the thing in real time, and the illusion that the story is happening in real time is what hooks and what sells. Especially when you make the dominoes fall just right. (Don’t set up pizzas and knock them over one by one. That’s a party foul. I meant the little game tiles, not the food.)

If nothing goes wrong, you’ve got no story. 300 pages of turd burgers might begin something like this: “They lived happily. No. Happier than that. The happiest people to ever exist. They had all the happy adventures and nothing ever went wrong.” Well, if the characters don’t WANT anything because they’re already HAPPY, then what the frick? An algebra equation is more exciting than that. Gotta give your protagonist something to crave! It’s between the craving it and the getting it where the obstacles and the antagonists are, and that’s how you generate moments.

STOP right now and think of that story you tell friends or co-workers. You know, the one where the WORST SHIT HAPPENED right when something was about to go amazingly. Fell off a jet ski? Had to pee right at the start of a roller coaster ride? Yeah, THOSE moments in YOUR life are the equivalent of the moments you need to write into your protagonist’s story. And things just keep going wronger each chapter.

Or hey, maybe some crazy thing went so absurdly right that it made for an excellent moment. The hacker wrecks the antagonist’s systems so hard she pranks people mid-hack…until something else goes wrong. The beastmaster faces the bad gal with a hundred people’s camera phones recording, so he makes cats dancing the only thing the crowd can get on camera mid-beast fight…until the stakes get huger ‘cause something went nuts. Like squirrels. The fuel for the everything-went-right moment could be absurdity, competence, luck, or timing. Get your characters into those scenarios and the readers will jump up and down and cheer, “Ohmygodthatdidnotjusthappen.”

And speaking of timing, the characters’ PLANS can go wrong and still generate amazing moments because you, the writer, PLANNED the obstacles well. Readers expect things to go wrong, so choreograph your scenes and then once in a while build in a sincere reason for a thing to go wrong in a different way than what you choreographed. Did the antagonist accelerate their diabolical plot? Did another character try to help at the exact wrong time? Could someone switch sides WAY earlier for a genuine reason? Practice writing several ways the scene or the goal could go wrong and have fun changing the HOW and the WHO each time. Then you can pick from a menu of the best brain food delicacies and arrange them like a pro chef knocking down frozen pizzas for the Guinness Book of World Records.

Hey, I know I said it was a party foul, but if they’re still in their boxes and the whole kitchen is clean, then they’re edible. Heh.

Moments. We only get so many. Take the tricks here and grow your writing with ‘em! If you’re not a writer, then watch for tricks like these next time you’re reading or watching movies. Those storytellers wanted to make people’s lives better by setting up those moments. They wanted money too, but why not make it while making audiences go, “Hooooo crap that was awesome!”