Sunday, March 17, 2013


Every good story that makes you stand up out of your seat during the last chapter and shout, "YES! YES! Oh Yeeeessss!" has an plot that ends with a BANG! doesn't it? But how does one write a story that ends with a bang? Well, let's take a look at that one moment that every story, no matter how sad, can't do without. In the world of literature, are you ready for it? We call it a... "BLACK MOMENT!!!" Sounds ominous, doesn't it? It should.
A black moment is the point in a story during which it seems all hope is lost and the character will never overcome his obstacle. 
Sound about right? Any good story has a good black moment. It's normally the part during which you cry because you just can't believe the character suffered such a terrible blow. Will Fido ever come home to Johnny? He just got hit by a car! The vets don't know if they can save him. And will Johnny ever know what happened to Fido? It's all just too much to bear! That's a black moment. And guess what, to end with a BANG! Your story needs one.

It can be very hard to torment your characters - though some writers have way too much fun tormenting their characters. I get it, it's fun to "play God" sometimes. But, whether you enjoy tormenting your characters or not, you'll have to get over it and torment them for a little while so your readers will be truly satisfied in the end. They won't be satisfied unless your character overcomes their worst fear.

But a black moment doesn't necessarily have to be "THE WORLD IS GOING TO END," though to your character, it must seem that way. Like, for let's go with our Johnny and Fido example. For Johnny, who absolutely loves Fido, loosing his best friend would be an awful event. Johnny's perfect little life would be shattered. What would he do? His favorite companion would be lost to him. Get it? The rest of the world would go on if Fido didn't survive being hit by a car, but Johnny would be heartbroken. Now, for a superhero story, the world can be about to end. But that's another case. For your everyday average joe character, the Fido and Johnny example works just fine.

So have you got a black moment in mind? Good! Now we can move on. Once's we've given our character an earth shattering event, we can proceed to get him out of it.
The story ends when the main character resolves his Black Moment or comes away with a different point of view. 
Let's go with our Fido example. Now, I'm sorry to say, but your main character must solve the problem on his own.
the main character must come up with the solution to his Black Moment
That may seem unfair, but listen a little more. The main character must come up with the solution, this does not mean that he must enact his solution on his own. He may call on other people to help - but it must be his own idea. For Johnny and Fido... well, guess what? Johnny saw Fido get hit by the car and rushed off the the vet's clinic, though Fido never saw him. When he gets to the clinic, he sees the doctors talking to each other very gravely and he sits down and cries for a long time. But then... Johnny remembers that Fido is no ordinary dog, though the doctors don't know it. Fido is a ROBOT DOG! Johnny knows how to fix him, but he has to recreate the parts from memory. He rushes into the room where Fido is being kept and looks him over before running home. He has a time limit before Fido's solar panels will no longer be able to keep Fido alive and running. Johnny gets to welding and quickly creates the parts and puts them in his backpack. Going back outside, he finds that his bike has been stolen! He calls his friend Susie to help because she has a two-seated bicycle. Together, they ride back to the clinic and Johnny fixes Fido's broken parts just before Fido's battery dies and little Fido springs back to life!!!

Get it? Johnny came up with the idea to save Fido on his own. But, in order to save Fido, he needed Susie to help him get back to the vet clinic. How's that for ending with a BANG?!?!?! I know, you're not writing about Fido and Johnny, but you are telling a story about a character who is about to loose everything he cares about and somehow he must fix things.

This is a formula to create a guaranteed amazing story. You may be able to think of some stories that don't have one big black moment, but these are either, not well written or create by an accomplished author who has earned the right to be experimental. Until you've earned that right... stick with the formula.

One last point before I close... and this has to do with the closing... When your character resolves their black moment, don't draw out the story to tell us that Johnny and Suzie dated for five years and then got married and Fido met another Robot dog and they had a dozen robot puppies. Please... don't do it. It's dangerous. Epilogues can be the ruin of your wonderful ending because they are unnecessary to the plot. Let your reader fantasize about what they think happened after your story ends. Anything you tell your reader should be crucial to the plot... drive it where you want to go. When you land your plane... don't keep the passengers sitting in their seats... they want to get off and go eat dinner.

Hope you can now write a story that ends with a bang =)

No comments:

Post a Comment