In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing. —Theodore Roosevelt
One of the most important concepts I teach is the concept of kairos. This is an Ancient Greek word that literally translates as, “the opportune moment” or “a moment that something comes into being”. It’s a moment at which something changes. Chronological time is different.
Kairos are the moments that we capture when we write.
Every story is made up of moments in which our characters’ thoughts or situations change. A new idea or reality comes into being as our character learns information or faces a situation that changes their emotional state.
These moments are called scenes. That’s why, if you have a scene in which the character’s emotional state doesn’t change, you actually don’t have a scene at all. To capture kairos, something important must happen, be revealed, or be understood.
A scene that simply reveals a backstory or exposition is a scene that needs to be cut and folded into another scene. (If that backstory or exposition leads to a change in emotional state, then it counts as “something happening”.
Today, keep track of your own moments of kairos. Has something happened today to change your mood? Did someone drop by and make you smile? Did a cloudburst destroy your much-anticipated picnic plans? Consider the moments of your day and how they affect you, and you’ll see kairos in action. That’s why these are the moments of our day that we choose to share with others. “You’ll never guess who I saw today!” or “You won’t believe what happened at the picnic. (Nothing!)”
That’s the essence of storytelling.