All terms

What is a Crisis?

A crucial turning point in a story where the character faces a difficult decision or obstacle.

The Opportunity in Crisis

A crisis in a story is a critical moment of decision or action, often the turning point which defines the character's journey. It's an opportunity for growth or change, and a chance for the writer to test their character's strength and resolve. A crisis doesn't have to mean disaster; in fact, it can often be the moment of greatest creativity and inspiration. Whether it's a decision to take a risk, to face a fear, or to confront an enemy, the crisis is where our characters find their true selves. And in finding themselves, they find their story.

Crisis Brings Opportunity: Examples in Literature

A crisis can define a story, and the choices characters make in those moments can change the course of their lives. Here are two examples of how a moment of crisis can create opportunity within literature.

The Hunger Games

When Katniss volunteers to take her sister's place in the Hunger Games, she faces an immediate crisis: does she sacrifice her own life to protect her sister, or does she let her sister go instead? This decision sets the tone for the entire story, and Katniss's willingness to put herself in harm's way for someone she loves becomes a defining theme throughout the trilogy.

The Odyssey

When Odysseus and his men face the temptation of the lotus-eaters, it sets off a chain of events that ultimately leads to a crisis of leadership and identity for Odysseus. He must choose whether to stay with the lotus-eaters and lose his identity and drive, or leave them and face the dangers ahead, including the wrath of the gods. This crisis ultimately defines his journey home and lays the groundwork for several key moments of decision throughout the epic poem.