“I mean, like, dudette, you talkin’ about one of them black holes or something?”
“No, no, y’all. She’s talking about when the lights go out–you know, like with a power outage.”
“Oh. Well, that’s disappointing because she writes romance novles and I always associate sexy times with no lights.”
Yes, the Black Moment™ (put finger quotes around that!) is a thing in romances. Does it happen in other genres? Sometimes. Fantasy, often, and probably ScFi, Urban Fantasy definitely. But what IS the Black Moment? It’s that turning point in the story when the absolute worst happens. As authors, we merrily skip along tormenting our characters by throwing roadblocks in their paths to happiness or solving the crime, completing their quest, or whatever the heck they’re up to. This is called conflict. Conflict makes for interesting reading. (Except sometimes…it doesn’t. *See below.) Anyway, the black moment happens when it all goes to hell in a handbasket and it looks like there’s no way an HEA can ever happen. That’s when the smart author follows this advice from the Universe:
Even when the earth suddenly shakes, tides unexpectedly surge, and all hope seems lost, in the split second that follows, Silver, I have a brand new plan, I know what we’ll do, and I’ve got the pedal to the metal.
Just get back in your saddle and ride,
Metaphorically, Silver. I don’t (only) mean earthquakes and hurricanes, but friends who disappoint, connections that have faded, and dreams that seem to have been left in tatters.
Always have a Plan B ready because we totally need to blow up Plan A. Half the fun is watching the hero and heroine get stronger and fight their way back to each. Readers (and aren’t we all reader?) want to cheer the characters on, root for them to get through the bad storm and find the sunshine on the other side. You know the old adage, it’s always darkest before the dawn? That’s the perfect metaphor for the Black Moment. Anyway, I think y’all get my point so I won’t belabor it further. Writers, easy or hard to write the Black Moment? And Readers, can you think of a Black Moment in a book where you thought there was no way the couple could ever achieve their HEA?
*I had to stop reading one author’s UF series, and I’ve never picked up another of her books, because the main couple NEVER caught a break. They never got a moment to just enjoy being with each other. Book after book after book ad naseum, all the other characters got their rewards, goodness, and HEA. But the main couple? No. So I just stopped. I have no clue to this day if they EVER really got together and got their HEA. Frankly, after so much angst and BS, I simply no longer cared if they did or didn’t. There’s a lesson here. Writers need to be aware of the fact you can heap too much stuff on a character’s head, to the point that readers give up on the story. And you. Don’t be that writer!