…So it can all go right.
The Black Moment, that is. When it looks like everything is lost, the hero and heroine will never work things out, that’s it, this relationship is killed dead. The moment when we as writers have to somehow make our reader thing this is the one romance where it’s not going to work out. Because the coming together, the Happy Ever After, is sweeter in direct proportion to how believably bad the Black Moment is.
I’m thinking about this today because one of my CP’s, Maisey, did a marvellous post on Black Moments. It’s good. Read it!
Anyway, she got me thinking.
How I always tend to be too nice to my characters. I don’t want to make them suffer, I like these story people I created, after all.
Of course, in Supers or single titles we don’t need to break our characters quite as thoroughly as Presents, but they still have to be forced to learn and grow before they get to the point where they can totally commit to this love. Both characters have to work hard to earn their Happy Ever After, whether they want to change or not. Without changing, they aren’t going to get what they want.
Maybe even in Supers and STs they do need to be broken. Those self-protective walls they put around their emotions have to be removed, one way or another. It can be with a smash, or with the slow subtle water on stone wearing away (usually with the character grabbing more stones to try to rebuild that dam before any real emotion leaks through). But yes, there still needs to be that moment when the pressure builds so much that the wall cracks and the emotions come out.
Their emotions become so intense, or the pressure from the other character becomes so strong, that they have no choice. They have to face their deepest relationship blocks, their biggest emotional issues, whatever the internal conflict is that’s stopping them letting themselves let go to love, stopping them being fully present in the relationship. Or they have to close up completely and walk away from this relationship forever.
The Black Moment is the moment when it looks like they might walk. No matter how much the relationship means to them (if only they’d let themselves admit it), those inner self-protective defence mechanisms are stronger. It really could go either way.
The resolution is the moment of surrender. The walls are broken. They CHOOSE to be broken, because at last the love is more important than the self-protection. And that breaking, that emotional openness and vulnerability, is what makes the true love possible.
Of course, this process goes on in real relationships all the time. For me, a lot of this happened slowly over several years, while I was engaged and those early years of my marriage. I do distinctly remember the moment quite early on in our dating when I decided to surrender, to drop my defences, and to let myself fall in love with this man. There were a lot more mini-surrenders after that for both of us, as we learned and grew in our love and came together as a truly committed couple.
LOL, I still have days I want to run away. Because the truth is, sometimes it’s easier to be single, to just have to decide for ourselves, to not have to deal with the emotional complexities of our own and another person’s feelings. It’s like that for my characters, only more so.
In romance, the process has to be more dramatic, just like our characters have to be larger than life. Their secrets have to be bigger, their hurts deeper, their emotional blocks harder to overcome, losing the other character’s love the worst thing that could possibly happen in their lives.
Hmm, that helps me see how it needs to be for my characters.
Now I really have to get writing and stop just talking about it!