Thursday, February 24, 2011

Describing the Black Moment

To do some 'research' for this post, I rifled through some of my writing files. Those well-tumbed through folders with labels like: plot, scenes, chatacters, setting, etc.

I found several notations about the black moment. Over the years I have heard it described and defined in many ways:

The conflict explodes. The hero and heroine are boxed in. The conflict appears to be unsolvable and they can't make it work.

Period of Misery.

The black moment must be logical to your plot and your story. It must grow naturally out of the actions that preceded it, which in turn must have grown naturally out of the characters' personalities. It can't depend on some outside force like a random accident. Don't rely on coincidence. It must deliver an appropriate level of emotion.

The ultimate test. The plot at this point represents an irrevocable decision.

A logical, yet unanticipated development that throws your focal character for a loss.

And one that has always stood out and I've remembered...

What your heroine feared most has happened, and the hero did it to her.

Once again, a great topic this week, ladies.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!



  1. Ooh, I love that last one - "what your heroine feared most has happened, and the hero did it to her". Definitely worth remembering! Also like the idea of hero and heroine being 'boxd in' and unable to make it work.
    Thanks for all these ideas, Debra!

  2. Hi,

    I'm with Paula on the "boxed in" and "what a heroine feared most" aspect: both great for creating a logical "black moment".

    But, I'm gonna stick my neck out on "accidents" as necessarily that of outside influence, because when a character is subject to extreme emotional stress - despair in seeing or feeling agony of love lost to them - it can induce recklessness that wouldn't have otherwise occurred and can result in car/motor bike/horse riding accident etc.

    As in the case of one of my heroes a plane crash results because he does something reckless that he knows he shouldn't have. Death of a character, admittedly seems a bit of an extreme "black moment", but what follows in this particular novel is not an icky sweet drama driven hospital scenario of tears and forgiveness and HEA. Oh no, it's quite the opposite of no hospital scenes, but he's nonetheless decided to disappear yet not so far that he can't see her on a daily basis. When she discovers he's alive she not only has to fight dirty to win him over, she has to convince him he's the same despite . . .! I can't say what because it will spoil the ending if this novel ever gets published.

    So I do think accidents have a place as "black moments" but only as a result of emotional overload! Pushing boundaries is good for characters and their creators!


  3. Your exciting example, Francine, sounds like an intentional accident. When does it occur in your story?

  4. Hi Ana,

    The accident occurs late in the story - his own fault (pilot fatigue) plus emotional stress.

    Interesting point: intentional! I have to say no at point of accident, but after the event . . . Who knows it might have crossed his mind at a later date, only the hero can express what he's going through and what impact the accident has had on him re his former career.

    I think a little dark twist never goes amiss in a romance, it can make the characters seem more real and less perfect.


  5. Thanks ladies! One of these days I really need to read through the rest of those folders. There are good things in there!

    Francine, I think your example of an accident works well as a dark/black moment. Again, because it comes logically out of the characters actions and emotions at the time.

  6. I really appreciate the information in your folders, Debra!