People like to debate whether a novel is all about the characters, or all about the story, or all about the writing. You’ll hear it a lot, all over the web. “I like a good character driven story!” or “I want to read something with literary style!”
I don’t think those things make a book readable. I think it’s about the moments.
If you think back on your life and your memories, the most meaningful ones don’t run through your mind like a movie. The most meaningful ones are small moments.
I’ll never forget how Michael did the special turn step during our wedding dance. I don’t remember all of the dance, but I remember how careful he was about executing that turn step, which made my dress flare and made the crowd go, “Ooooooh!”
I’ll never forget three days of struggling to learn to breast feed in the NICU, with five people standing over me yelling instructions and encouragement and grabbing my boobs, but then going down there one night, when it was dark and quiet, and this elderly nurse was just so kind and patient and NOT IN MY FACE, and Nickel and I finally got it together. I don’t remember the five lactaction specialists and support staff very well. I vividly remember that NICU nurse, and I vividly remember that moment.
When I go back and re-read a novel, I’m often going back for a specific scene. In Eclipse, there’s a scene where Bella wants to have sex with Edward, but he’s unsure what she’s after. It’s awkward and touching and one of my favorite moments in the whole series.
Moments aren’t about the big explosive scenes in a book. Moments are about the little touches that make the story real, and human. Yes, you need the action, the adventure, the tension, the conflict.
But you need the moment afterward even more.