Revising My WIP
Writing Epiphany Scenes
What is that? It sounds like some word pulled out of a thesaurus.
What purpose does it serve in a story?
If we write a story about a character’s changes through a story, we go through stages.
(1) Our MC lives in her world, compensating for her flaws, and making do. We leave her in that state throughout Part One.
(2) When our MC decides to solve the story problem, she starts down a path through Parts Two and Three. Her experience exposes her flaws, which become ever more crippling. Finally, she brings on disaster and hits rock bottom.
(3) Then our MC searches her soul and realizes she must change or she is forever doomed.
(4) After that, our MC applies her new insights and becomes a better person, and goes on to win.
Our Epiphany Scene applies to step three, where she realizes what is holding her back.
What Am I Trying To Do In An Epiphany Scene
Every scene needs a beginning.
Our POV character has reached the bottom of the barrel. Her old way of doing this has proven disastrous, and she doesn’t know where to turn. She is probably afraid.
Her setting hints at which epiphany she will undergo.
Every scene needs a middle.
She can see her old way of doing things led to disaster, but she doesn’t want to change.
Something drives her to change.
She might be on the verge of losing the most important thing in her life.
She might be looking at something which proves she can’t do it.
She might have harmed or killed someone dear to her.
She might be in terrible danger.
Something triggers her to say and feel in her heart, I must change ______ or I won’t be able to ______.
Then she reaches a sudden, blinding realization about her or her situation.
She breaks through denial to the truth.
She discovers what she has always wanted to do.
She realizes she or someone else can’t do everything they want to do.
She understands something about herself.
She gets a slap in the face, forcing her to change.
Every scene needs an ending.
We should bring the scene to a close within a few paragraphs of the realization.
Her change should fundamentally alter her outlook and character.
How did I do?
I missed a step in my story. I never identified which scene the Epiphany was. Stories need to go through several steps before arrive at the Epiphany.
Part Two is a wild series of adventures which exposes the MC’s flaws and hamper her.
Part Three is where the MC figures out what is happening and strikes back, only to fail.
About half way through Part Three, she reaches an external point where All Is Lost. Her grand plans and great ambitions failed and she is in ruins. Why? Because her flaws led her to disaster.
Almost immediately after, in Part Three, she reaches an internal point with her Dark Night Of The Soul. She internalizes her disaster, and is nothing but gloom and doom.
Soon after that, in Part Three, she comes to an understanding with her Epiphany.
When I wrote my First Draft and my First Revision, I thought, somehow, the Dark Night of the Soul and Epiphany were the same scene. Later, I broke that scene apart (Scenes 51 and 54) and separated them so they weren’t even back to back. Then I wrote Scene 54 as a dramatic scene, which felt wrong, even after two rewrites.
When I tried to write Scene 51 as my Epiphany Scene, I could see I erred. So I had to backtrack. I took Scene 54, renamed it Scene 51A, and moved it to follow Scene 51. Then I wrote Scene 51 as Dark Night of the Soul, and then wrote Scene 51A as Epiphany.
I also came to another unhappy realization as I wrote Scene 51A. I don’t have a good handle on what she is struggling with. How lame is that? I’m 98% done with this revision and I’ve only just discovered I haven’t brought her fatal flaw to the surface! Gawk.
The only good thing about this is that I am going to revise my story one more time, sweeping through each character arc to make things consistent and clear. As it turns out, I’ve got a little more work to do with my MC than I thought. Double Gawk.
I have three scenes left – the Climax, the First Scene, and the Final Scene.
Then I must go back and do all those arcs. Will I ever finish?