B is for Black Moment

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

With the whole rebel alliance counting on him, Luke Skywalker has one shot left to kill the Death Star.  His on-board targeting system has failed to work.  The Death Star has cleared the moon and is about to blast the planet killing everyone. And Darth Vader has Luke in his crosshairs.

Talk about a Black Moment for our hero!

Every movie, every book, every hero or heroine has their black moment.  It is this point at which things cannot get any worse for the H/H and they are forced to make a decision to act, usually doing the one thing that they would never have imagined doing in a million years.

In Star Wars, Luke’s black moment compels him to turn off his targeting computer and trust the Force to save the day.  And he does, resulting in the movie’s HEA.

Black Moments are essential in romance writing.  According to the article “Learn the Elements of a Novel: Structure  and Plot,” the “black moment” is the point in a novel “at which all is lost and the goal cannot be achieved.”  By this point in the story the hero has struggled against external and internal forces until he/she has reached “a ‘Black’ moment, where the stakes are highest and danger at its worst. During this moment, the hero draws upon the new strengths or lessons he’s learned in order to take action and bring the story to a conclusion.”

When crafting the Black Moment, many writers have found the advice of Donald Maas extremely helpful: 

1.  Work out the one thing your character would never do, then make him/her do it.             

2.  Work out the one thing your character would never sacrifice, then make him/her sacrifice it.

3.  Work out your character’s greatest fear then make him/her face that.

Using one, two, or all three of these wrenching scenarios will help you craft the darkest black moment imaginable for your H/H.  It is a matter of craft to pick and choose the perfect set of circumstances that will torment each particular hero/heroine from the beginning of the novel.  Anna Campbell suggests that the seeds of the black moment should be sown in the first pages of the novel, so we see the potential for it develop throughout.  Just remember: each Black Moment must be tailored to each individual hero if it is to have the most heart-wrenching effect on the audience

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