The Black Moment—When is it Black Enough?
What makes a book memorable? A truly enthralling read? A tale that sticks in your mind long past closing the book?
Yes, characters, but not just the people in the story—everything that happens to them during the course of the story. How they cope, how they change, how they overcome: a.k.a. the character’s story arc. And that transforming arc peaks within the climax at the black moment.
A moving, meaningful, magic black moment is carefully crafted from page one, builds through the first 3/4 – 7/8 of the book and climaxes into that moment when the character makes a critical choice that changes them, changes life as they know it, changes their future.
A black moment:
• Begins with characters the reader cares about (characterization)
• Builds through continued struggle (conflict)
• Expands along the story’s trajectory (character arc)
• Deepens as danger mounts (increasing stakes)
• Culminates at the most threatening point (climax)
• Consolidates with reflection and self-realization (resolution)
This moment’s power lies within each individual story element’s strength. If those pieces are weakly constructed, the black moment fizzles and leaves a reader feeling dissatisfied, like the impending sneeze that tickles in the nose but never comes.
The strongest black moment is tied to a character’s growth arc. In the beginning the one thing a character would never consider giving up or what they spend all their time fighting for (or against), ends up being what they must give up in order to complete their journey toward becoming the best version of themselves or to accomplish their greater goal.
My debut novel FEVER begins with the hero, Teague, escaping prison. When the reader meets Teague, he is willing to die rather than go back to prison. Teague’s black moment comes when he realizes that he must give up what he wants most in life—his freedom—in order to keep those he loves from suffering the damaging consequences he brought into their lives.
A black moment that is truly pitch black provides the deepest emotional hit, which in turn creates the very sweetest resolution. And as a reader, that’s the pay off for me reaching The End—watching the characters emerge, struggle, grow, nearly lose everything that matters, then triumph and end up happier than they imagined they could ever be.
If beginnings create readers and endings create fans, black moments create addicts.
How important is the strength of the black moment to your overall satisfaction in a read? What authors do you think do an exceptional job with their black moments? Why?
• A print copy of FEVER, US/Canada shipping.
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Gamistress is our WINNER – thanks all for blogging – Joan
Author Bio: Joan Swan is a triple RWA® Golden Heart finalist and writes sexy romantic suspense with a paranormal twist. Her debut novel with Kensington Brava, FEVER, releases February 28, 2012. Her second novel, BLAZE, follows in October, 2012.
In her day job, she works as a sonographer for one of the top ten medical facilities in the nation and lives on the California central coast in beautiful wine country with her husband and two daughters.
FEVER Book Blurb:
Dr. Alyssa Foster will admit to a bad boy fetish…
But when she finds herself face to face with a convicted murderer with determination for freedom and an eye on her as his get out of jail free card, Alyssa knows she’s in deep trouble…. Not just because Teague Creek is a prisoner desperate for freedom, but because his every touch makes her desperate for more.
A man with a life sentence has nothing to lose…
Teague Creek has one shot at freedom, but his plan to escape with a hostage develops a fatal flaw: Alyssa. On the run from both the law and deadly undercover operatives who know of his strange abilities, he needs to avoid trouble, but every heated kiss tells him the fire between them could be just as devastating as the flames that changed him forever.