I watched the latest version of Pride & Prejudice tonight. Spoilers are ahead, so if you haven't seen the movie and don't want to know anything about it, stop reading now. Anyway, the first time I saw it was in the theatre, my heart turned over in my chest in the scene where Mr. Darcy walks toward Elizabeth in the morning mist. When I bought the DVD, I wondered if I would have the same reaction watching it again.
It's such a terrific moment, and as the credits rolled, I thought about why. The scene is beautifully filmed. The scenery is awe-inspiring. The clothes are perfect--I practically swoon over Mr. Darcy in that long jacket. And, of course, the acting is wonderful. But what makes that moment so wonderful isn't all of the things I've just listed. It's also because of what happened in the story before this moment.
It's because of everything Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth experience in their journey together that the scene not only works but has an emotional impact. If the moment in the mist had been the first part of the movie, I would have noticed the beautiful filming, awe-inspiring scenery, clothes, and acting, but the scene wouldn't have had the same emotional punch.
I'm working on a story now, and I've been considering how best to strengthen the characters and lengthen the story for possible submission. Tonight it hit me. My story has a moment at the end of the book. It's not Mr. Darcy striding across the meadow, but it's a scene with potential emotional impact. The best way to meet my goals for this story of improved characterization and increased length is to evaluate what happens in the story before that scene. What journey of the characters will bring them to that scene?
In other words, I need to make sure the story earns the moment, earns that final emotional punch.
I love making realizations like this.