I love to read, and usually have three books going at once. One will be fiction, one will be history, and one will be on writing. In my craft reading, I came across an interesting idea recently, about the scene that romance writers call The Big Black Moment. This is the point in the book where All Hope Is Lost. If the heroine and hero have options, every choice stinks. Often it looks like they don’t even have stinky choices–failure and doom are bearing down from all sides.
Hannah is sailing away from Asher MacGregor, never to be seen again. Christian is off to duel with an old foe while Gillian and Lucy have been left in the hands of the real villain. Tremaine is leaving the woman he loves because she’s chosen saving lives over rescuing his weary heart. Who writes these cheery little tales, anyway?
What I learned about the Big Black Moment is that the scene portrays not only the death of all hope, but also the death of the character’s world view and self-image as they existed at the beginning of the book. Asher MacGregor was never going to fall in love again, period, much less fall in love so hard, he’d break his own heart rather than try to tell the woman he loved what to do. Three hundred and forty four pages later, what’s he doing…?
The Big Black Moment is a tough spot, because it signals that the external conflict–the bad guys, dooty, rotten luck–is about to thwart true love. It’s also, however, a moment of birth. When faced with every reason to quit, the character who is inspired by love makes one last desperate grab for success–not as they would have defined success at the beginning of the book but as they NOW define success, after taking the courageous step of loving and being loved.
As we approach the darkest time of year, a time of year when some people fight hard memories, tight finances, difficult work circumstances, and challenging emotions, I’m reminded that tough times can give birth to creativity, ingenuity, resilience, determination and all kinds of growth we might once have thought impossible. From Big Black Moments can come people changed for the better and even a happily ever after or two.
When did adversity change you or somebody you know for the better? To one commenter, I’ll send a $50 gift card.