"Black Moments"

The other day over at Murder She Writes S.J. Day blogged about "Black Moments". Black Moments are the moment when you're positive that there is absolutely nothing that will get the H/H together. There is no will and there is no way. At least that's what I gathered from the post. Many people had many comments on this topic and quite frankly I was left a little confused. If this sounds at all sarcastic I don't mean it to, I'm genuinely concerned for the future of my book.

After reading this post I began racking my brain. Black moments, black moments. I started thinking about all of my favorite books, Bet Me, The List, The Horse Whisperer, Anges & the Hitman. . . black moments, black moments. It was driving me crazy. I don't know if I can find the "black moments" in these books. It's my understanding that it's not a "black moment" if the characters just need to get their sh*t together and talk it out. If it's a problem that can be talked out, it doesn't count.

*** SPOILER ALERT for above mentioned books ***

So let's talk it out. *giggle* In The Horse Whisperer Tom Booker dies, unlike in the damn movie, but we're not discussing that today, so there's no way in hell the H/H are getting together in the end of this story. In The List Abby is pretty sure Jack is trying to kill her and once he explains that it wasn't him, it was "the other guy" and "the other guy" proves him right the H/H are together. You have your HEA. In Bet Me once Cal & Min are both able to get past their own insecurities they're together. HEA baby. I don't think there is a moment like that in Anges & the Hitman. Shane kills all the people trying to kill Anges, discovers his own identity and that's kinda it. HEA.

Do you think these are "black moments"? Does it make them bad books if they're not? Please please blog readers I want and need to know what you think. Am I defining "black moment" incorrectly? HELP ME!


  1. I'm blogging about 'The End' tomorrow, Erika. I have a link to an article that talks about Black Moments - or "The Climax". I found it to be pretty consise and made sense to me (after all these years where I couldn't define the Black Moment. Go here

    Of course, this could be totally wrong - and others may have a better explanation. And hopefully my html code works.

  2. Yeah, it worked. Oh, and just because I gave up the article, I hope you visit the Chicks tomorrow anyway :)

    Don't forget us betabloggers are here to help - you can always talk out your black moment on the blog and we'll discuss there.

  3. Janet, thanks for the link. Of course I'll check out chicks tomorrow. Silly girl. I always read it even if I don't comment. Thanks for the help, I'm trying to figure it out. :)

  4. I suppose I have a bit broader definition for a black moment, but I am far from an expert! LOL. Janet, that was a good article, btw.

    To me, the black moment is what *I* consider to be the climax of the story--that moment where everything has gone to hell in a handbasket and you have to turn the page to make sure that there is more story because if the book ended right there, you're going to *die*. It's the moment when you sit there, as a reader, going, "NOOOOnonononono! That can't happen! Not now. Now yet. Not ever!" And then you spend the rest of the book figuring out how things are ever going to work out "right". "Right" being subjective, of course. LOL.

    Try this link for some info about structure and where the black moment belongs. Hope it helps: Novel Structure

  5. Thanks Silver, I appreciate all the help.

  6. oooo, got me some links to follow - best of luck Erika, sorry I didn't have something productive to add. thanks for the questions on my blog btw - working up a 'response post' !

  7. This is one reason why I stopped writing romance. I always hated the term 'black moment', BM for short. Maybe it was the way I abbreviated it that I have such a problem with.
    Anyhoo, the BEST BM's combine the internal conflict with the external conflict to intersect at precisely the same time. This is the climax scene that peaks somewhere around the last 10-20% of the story. Each character's goals conflict and they don't see anyway they can get around their differences, PLUS the external devices are against them. The No Way out to HEA.
    IMHO, this is becoming more rare as many IC's aren't as well defined or deep as they were 5-10 years ago. Plus many of them have the IC peaking before the EC.
    I just read Nancy Haddock's Last Vampire Standing. LOVED IT! I just love Nancy's voice and can't wait for the next book in the series. Anyway, the IC for Cesca/Saber peaked about a chapter prior to the EC. Now this works for this story, since there is a BUNCH of EC that trying to combine the IC at the same time would have just made a mess.
    I imagine, having the IC/EC BM at the same time would be easier in stories with less external plot.
    Then again, I could just be blowing smoke up your butt, since I sucked at writing romance.

  8. Margaret, thank you. I understand a little bit better now. I think the "Black Moment" or BM as you so elegantly put it, is different for romance. I can name a dozen Nora Robert books that I don't think have a "Black Moment" or at least not one that I recognize as such. Maybe I'm just dumb though. Thank you for clarifying for me. You're the best.

  9. Okay, here's my shot at it. To me, the black moment has more to do with the internal conflict of the hero or heroine. You've built the internal conflict up to the breaking point in each MC. Something's gotta give. The black moment. Where it all spills over, out into the open and issues or beliefs or feelings are exposed or expressed and their bleeding emotionally all over the place. And in that moment there is no resolution. That's what a black moment is to me. I don't know what writing articles and books have to say about the black moment so I could be totally wrong. And I also think you're very right. There are books out there without a hit-you-over-the-head black moment. I think you have to write it the way you see it unfolding.

  10. Karyn, HI! I didn't recognize you at first. I think you're explaination pretty much sums up what I was thinking after all the info I've received. I think black moments are different in each genre and you have to decide what is going to work best for your characters. My biggest problem is I think I read too much on what other authors think. I need to just write it out the way I see it and work it from there. I keep forgetting that.

  11. Had a little name change thing happen. I'm trying hard to remember that too.

  12. I admit, I haven't read the original post, but I wanted to throw in my two pennies anyway.

    To my understanding, the best crafted books have both an internal and external black moment. You see the externals more in the paranormals / action / suspense books. The heroine has been kidnapped, or the bomb went off with one of them inside or something. The reader has that "Oh shit" moment of "how are they going to survive?"

    And then there's the internal black moment, which, if the author is good, has been building since page one. By the time we get to the internal Black Moment we know our characters and their personalities. We know who they are and what they'd never do, and even if it's just a matter of 'getting their shit together' we don't have faith that they can do it. It's the "Oh shit how are they going to survive this?" moment

    This is not to be confused with The Big Misunderstanding which derailed so many late '80s early '90s books. That's just a matter of "Oh, that was your cousin you hugged on the street?" In a good internal Black Moment the h&h need to overcome or at least address the flaws in their character to live (and love) up to their potential.

    Of course, the most satisfying books tend to have the external and internal Moments close enough together so that the resolution of one effects the resolution of the other.