You probably know, consciously or not, that stories are built from both small and significant moments of awakening, often referred to as epiphanies.

The origin of the epiphany in literature is attributed to James Joyce, who adapted the idea of religious epiphany for his short story collection, Dubliners.

Essays are often written around a single moment of awakening, and novels and memoirs are built on series of  realizations.

Not all moments of realization have to be positive, however.

In Memorial Drive, Natasha Trethewey questions whether she could have prevented her mothers’s murder by her step-father, and in a devastating moment toward the end of her memoir, she realizes that a negligent police office could have saved her.

In Beautiful Boy, David Sheff comes to the painful understanding that not only is he not responsible for his son’s addiction to methamphetamine, but despite his valiant efforts, he cannot save him.

Ready to write your own epiphany moments?

Try these three writing topics and see where they take you.

You can use them to begin an essay, to write a chapter of a book, a poem, even a blog post.

  1. Write about a time you realized something about yourself.
  2. Write about a time you realized something about someone else.
  3. Write about a time you realized something about the world.

Write toward the moment and give us all the details leading up to it. And remember, we want to see what’s happening without as well as within.

On a related note, if you’ve been doing writing practice for a while, you know the aha moments often come in the writing itself. 

Next time you have one of those writing ahas, pull it out and see if it stands on its own.

If not, begin again and write toward it using one of the three above topics.  

As always, I’m eager to hear how it goes. Drop me a line and let me know.

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