Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Theme-Story Integration Part 6 - Crafting The Epiphany

Theme-Story Integration
Part 6
Crafting The Epiphany

Or put another way - The Story changes The Plot

Previous parts in this series are indexed at:

In Part 5 we discussed a book about how to change anyone's mind, reviewed and summarized in the Wall Street Journal:


The Wall Street Journal article

When trying to change minds, organizations or even the world, we often default to a particular approach: pushing. Boss not listening to that new idea? Send them another PowerPoint deck. Client isn’t buying the pitch? Remind them of all the benefits. When people are asked how they’ve tried to change someone’s mind, my own research finds that the overwhelming majority of the answers focus on some version of pushing.

The intuition behind this approach comes from physics. If you’re trying to move a chair, for example, pushing usually works. Push it in one direction and it tends to go that way. Unfortunately, people and organizations aren’t like chairs; they often push back. Instead, it helps to look to chemistry, where there’s a proven way to make change happen fast: Add a catalyst.

Catalysts convert air into fertilizer and petroleum into bike helmets. But most intriguing is the way they generate change. Instead of adding heat or pressure, they provide an alternate route, reducing the amount of energy required for reactions to occur. Rather than pushing, they remove barriers.

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Of course, someone who has fallen in love with a person who doesn't "notice" them at all will want to change that person's mind.  They set out to seduce, woo, astonish, impress and get noticed.

And a corporate executive faced with a rival corporation -- or maybe a lawsuit, as in the TV Series, SUITS, -- will start their campaign with "pushing," and "push-back," and escalate the psychological violence to force the other to act in compliance with their own company's best interests.

Two countries at odds, each needing to change the other country's mind, will end up in war of some sort - Hot, Cold, Cyber.  The first and only recourse is FORCE.  Makes a great action movie or science fiction novel.

Science Fiction has been termed Action Adventure Genre. 

I don't believe that to be the case, which is why my Sime~Gen Series includes novels from all other Genres -- most all of them Love Stories, but including many Romances.


Is 14 of them, but we are up to 15 volumes and counting.  Here is #15

The first 8 Sime~Gen novels published were Action-Adventure with the Love Story or Romance hidden under the cover of Action because otherwise we would never have been able to sell them.

The world changed.  Science Fiction is now allowed to have Relationship Driven plots, and Science Fiction Romance became a recognized sub-genre.

Each of these novels, and most of my other novels,

including Those of My Blood, Dreamspy, Molt Brother, City of a Million Legends, and the Romantic Times Award Winning Dushau, Farfetch and Outreach all contain turning-point moments involving an epiphany of some sort.
Find them all at:

The epiphany makes you think something like:  Reality is not what I thought it was.

The epiphany moment is a Rising Action moment, a moment in the Story where the viewpoint Character changes his mind, and as a result changes the way the world appears.

A good, recent, example of needing to revise a theory is from Australia:

Australia's Bushfires Completely Blasted Through the Models

The wildfires weren't just unprecedented—scientists didn't think such catastrophic conflagrations would happen until the end of this century. ------end quote----------

This change allows the consideration of courses of action which were hitherto literally unthinkable.

The epiphany moment is usually the exact middle of the novel (count the pages).  In a film script, it is the 2/3rds point or the 3/4 point.  It is the "worm turns" moment, the Aha! scene, or the "Oh, no, you don't!" scene.  It is the scene where, as the potential lover turns to mount the steps into a plane, the viewpoint Character runs up the stairs, too, not to be left behind.

At that moment, the inexorable plunge, the true adventure starts.

In some novels, this moment is in Chapter One -- the moment the main character realizes there actually are ghosts and she's haunted by the sexiest off them all, or the moment when the viewpoint character stumbles on a crashed UFO with a hand groping through a crack.

The epiphany moment is when the world changes.  Some novels have two or even three such moments as new information changes the main character's understanding of the situation.

Mystery genre is endlessly fascinating simply because the detective keeps discovering clues that "change everything."  Usually not an epiphany for a hardboiled detective, but can be one for the reader.

So most fiction we see today in films, TV Series, streaming or broadcast, and big box office are "action" in the sense that the two main characters or sides in the battle use "push" to overwhelm and dominate, to win, to make the other feel helpless, powerless, and compliant.

Bullies have discovered how to emasculate their victims, and Rapists use similar techniques of overwhelming power (comply or I'll fire you and your mother won't be covered by your health insurance for her cancer therapy).

HOW TO CHANGE ANYONE'S MIND suggests that figuring out why a person won't change their mind, then introducing a new factor, a catalyst, that alters that reason will cause a re-examination of the problem, and alteration of behavior.

Take away the barrier to changing the mind, and the mind will change itself.

This strategy has become a widely used advertising strategy, and is the way Politicians and Publicists worm their way into a population's general consensus.  It's gradual. It's progressive.  Or maybe insidious depending on your opinion of the direction of change being prompted.

"Why doesn't she love me?"

Figure that out.  Remove the reason.  She'll come to love you.

Do you want to change her enough to be willing to change yourself?  If you do "change yourself" for love, will it stick or will you come to feel you are an imposter living someone else's life and it's all her fault?

Consider religious conversion for the sole purpose of getting married in a particular tradition.  What a tangled web that weaves.

So, considering the weaponization of mind-changing others to suit your own idea, and the morals and ethics involved in that which generate thousands of wondrous Romance novel themes, consider the general state of humanity.

Your main Characters are both unique and representative of your target readership.  To create verisimilitude, you need that quirky dimension as well as the illusion of the Character being "the same as" the reader in some way.

That "the same as" dimension is termed the Objective Correlative -- someone to identify with, to understand on a non-verbal level, to resonate to.

The "unique" dimension is what makes the Character interesting.

So what can you use to find a "unique" element that would be stunning, original and memorable to your Readers?

To discover that element, look at studies of "humanity" -- just across the board, everybody.  Find out what everybody (in your readership) thinks is true of everyone else, and create a Character has that trait, and changes his mind, and thus the trait.

The moment when he changes his own mind because of new information is his epiphany.  For example, "I'll never get married," firm and absolute.  In walks a woman just hired to work in the office next door.  "Um. Maybe live-with?"  The mind begins to change because of new information.

THAT depicts a Hero, a man of Wisdom, the raw material of Good Husband, Trusty Father, and Worth The Bother.

According to a famous study, only some people are like that, able to reassess an opinion when contradictory information comes to light.

The study that you have to combine with THE CATALYST: HOW TO CHANGE ANYONE'S MIND has been dubbed the DUNNING-KRUGER EFFECT.



Dunning and Kruger used a similar methodology, asking hobbyists questions about gun safety and to estimate how well they performed on the quiz. Those who answered the fewest questions correctly also wildly overestimated their mastery of firearm knowledge.

It’s not specific only to technical skills but plagues all walks of human existence equally. One study found that 80% of drivers rate themselves as above average, which is literally impossible because that’s not how averages work. We tend to gauge our own relative popularity the same way.

It isn’t limited to people with low or nonexistent skills in a certain matter, either — it works on pretty much all of us. In their first study, Dunning and Kruger also found that students who scored in the top quartile (25%) routinely underestimated their own competence.

A fuller definition of the Dunning-Kruger effect would be that it represents a bias in estimating our own ability that stems from our limited perspective. When we have a poor or nonexistent grasp on a topic, we literally know too little of it to understand how little we know. Those who do possess the knowledge or skills, however, have a much better idea of where they sit. But they also think that if a task is clear and simple to them, it must be so for everyone else as well.

-------end quote-------

If you don't know what love is - you don't know that you don't know.

If you don't know what happiness is - you don't know that you don't know.

The same goes for "ever after."

People who are firmly convinced there can be no such thing as "Happily Ever After" have that stubborn, firmness of conviction spoken of in THE CATALYST.  They just aren't going to change their mind because they are experts who already really know.

Hey, likewise, we who are convinced there is a chance for HEA are just as expert in our ignorance of why there can't be any such thing.

Read that article on Dunning-Kroger Effect which explains it so clearly you will immediately recognize it in people you know, and then posts on Facebook.

If you subscribe online to the Wall Street Journal you can find the article, or it is/was available on Apple News:

Or look up some reviews of the book THE CATALYST.

Most of both these articles contain nothing you don't already know.  As a writer, you've been a student of human nature all your life.  But it is possible you have never seen these simple observations of human behavior codified, and laid out in a way that it is clear the knowledge is being weaponized by the media to "control the population" -- peasants have to be controlled by their betters, right?

What do you know that nobody else knows?  What do they know that you don't?

What is the barrier in you that keeps you from changing your mind? You're already an expert?

What if what you know isn't actually so?

And ultimately, what would it take to change your mind?  What proof would you accept that you've been wrong all your life?

The Hero is the one who knows why he thinks what he thinks and thus readily re-thinks when evidence to the contrary appears.  Sometimes he arrives back at the same opinion, maybe by a different path, but the Hero is distinguished by the glee with which he re-thinks anything and everything he knows.

The Hero does not capriciously ditch his conclusions when someone contradicts or disapproves.  The Hero stipulates judiciously and develops new hypotheses, then runs tests to determine the best theory to try next.

The Hero has no barriers to changing his mind, so none of the strategies delineated in the book, THE CATALYST: HOW TO CHANGE ANYONE'S MIND, has any effect on his actions.

The Hero has a grasp of the overwhelming extent of his own ignorance, and sallies forth into life knowing he will take pratt falls and willing to laugh at himself.

Does your main Character want to marry a Hero?  Or does she need convincing?

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

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