Monday, November 8, 2010

Spiritual Journeys of our Characters, Part 3 by Susan May Warren

We so appreciate Susan's willingness to visit us this fall with her series on our characters' inner journeys. This Manuscript Monday, she discusses the black moment and how it's pivotal in the character's inner journey. Enjoy!

Spiritual Journeys of our Characters, Part 3*
by Susan May Warren

Okay, I’m just going to say it, and I’m using my Mom tone. The Black Moment is the POINT of your story. Because without the Black Moment, there is no epiphany and no character change, and if you are writing a romance, it is Absolutely Required.

If you don’t have a black moment in your story, then you don’t have a story. Sorry if that hurts…BUT, we’re going to fix it, right?

Last week, I promised more on the black moment. Today, let’s talk about how to weave in the lie with the black moment for effective character change!

Step Five: The Black Moment

In this step, the lie rears its ugly head, and the hero is caught in the darkness. This is RIGHT BEFORE the epiphany, and in a great inspirational story, the emotional and plot black moment can be entwined with the spiritual black moment. This is when, after he’s tried to escape on his own, he realizes he can’t – that the lie is pulling him back in. So, he drops to his knees and lets the lie cascade over him.

The spiritual black moment is when the lie seems bigger than life, and inescapable.

Why do you need this? Because this is when the TRUTH will come in and set them free. (That’s the next step and we’ll get to that).

First, how do you use the LIE in the Black Moment?

Sometimes, I have the Black Moment Event and follow up with a reaction where they realize the impact of that Black Moment Event, and thus see the LIE, which is inescapable.

In a romance, I might put the LIE in after he’s hurt the heroine and they’ve “broken up” (and/or vice versa for the heroine). Or, I might push it back to the moment when his greatest fears come true, and he realizes he’s lost her for good.

A LIE might actually occur BEFORE the black moment event – where his lie CONTRIBUTES to the black moment.

Or, you could have the Black Moment Event, then the LIE, THEN have the romantic black moment, as a result of all three.

How to decide when to use the LIE? Look at the rhythm of your story – does the lie cause the Black Moment, or does the Black Moment cause the revelation of the Lie?

Step 6: The Aha! The truth that sets them free

At some point during the black moment, you need to interject some light. It’s wonderful if it is delivered in a metaphorical moment, but it’s also good via another voice of truth.

This is where the character recognizes what they've needed to see all along.

Next week, we’re going to talk about the LAST step in the journey, something I call Storming the Castle.

* From My Book Therapy, originally titled: Set Me Free


Susie's latest book, Nightingale, released this week from Summerside.

Wolfgang Jager grew up in Iowa---but he's fighting on the "other" side in World War II. And Esther Lange is trapped by her own battles. When Wolfgang is captured and sent to a Wisconsin POW camp, he's relieved---until he's accused of murder! Can faith save him and the woman he loves?


To learn more about Susan, visit her Web site.

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