Quiet Black Moments

Thematically, I should have written about Black Moments last week, during Holy Week, when we used black fabrics on our altars and lecterns and pulpits during the "Good" Friday service when we remembered the death of Jesus through the torture of the crucifixion. 

Instead, here it is Easter season, in the Christian church, when we celebrate with white paraments, spring flowers, and tell stories of Jesus' resurrection in our sanctuaries.

What are Black Moments? For the writer and the reader, it is the moment in the story, at about the 3/4 mark, when all seems lost. The protagonist is clinging onto the edge of the cliff, losing her grip and ready to fall to her death.  The antagonist has trapped the heroine securely within his lair and there is no way out. There is no hope. Our main character gives up. 

Black Moments are Big Moments. Dramatic Moments. Breath-Catching Moments. Also known as Dark Nights.

What if, like me, you're reading or writing more of a character-based story? It's a quieter story rather than a thriller or a horror or an adventure. 

What is the Pride & Prejudice Black Moment? (a spoiler lies ahead)



When Lizzie finds out her foolish, younger sister has run off with a man, Lizzie's own chance, as well as that of her other three sisters, of securing love and an advantageous marriage are dashed hopelessly to the ground. They will none of them be able to marry to advantage because of this one sister's thoughtless act.

Although I can find the black moments in other writer's stories, trying to craft a good scene that is the black moment within my own story has had its challenges. 

Fortunately, I read Jami Gold's blog this week, Do Black Moments Need to Be Catastrophes?  In this blog, she talks about the quiet black moments. 

If you're interested in story structure in general or how to revise and/or edit your story once you're past the first draft, search through her website. Jami's blog is gold!  


How to tell a story

There are many helpful blogs on story telling and, when I do not have to go into the office, I am faithful in reading them in the morning. It's part of my self-education in writing my novel. 

This morning's blogs have been inspiring. Janet Reid started it off with the topic of pacing. Janice Hardy, guest on Elizabeth Spann Craig's blog, wrote about how to effectively foreshadow.  And my gem for the day is from Writer Unboxed

Story is about the internal cost of an unavoidable external change.
— Lisa Cron, Writer Unboxed

Her statement roughly mirrors the general theme for my story: Have courage, for love endures. Both of my protagonists have external changes in their lives that kick off their stories. And both of them have internal issues that they will need to deal with to better face their current changes. Telling stories is fascinating, complex, convoluted. And I enjoy so much about it even though I have so much to learn.  

I am almost finished with the second and third draft of my novel, roughly 98,000 words. The second draft has been sent, a few chapters at a time, to critique partners. The third draft has been revised with their critiques in mind. After the third draft is done, it'll be time to print it out and let it rest a while.

I've also been outlining a revision and editing process for when I get back to it. I'm scouring through blogs, including those listed above, and downloaded booklets to create a checklist that's adapted for my weaknesses and strengths.  

While the novel rests, I shall return to the non-fiction piece I wrote after I moved back to the States from Scotland. From 2007-2008, I lived and worked in the Iona Abbey for the Iona Community. I wrote about my experience there and sent the book to Wild Goose Publications, who had published my first book, Disturbing Complacency. Wild Goose said no to this particular book and encouraged me to contact them with any other writings. 

As I recovered from that rejection, I researched potential markets in the U.S. I quit after one rejection. So wimpy of me, true, but part of the reason I quit was that I saw the need to rewrite and restructure it. And I did not have the patience or passion at that time to work with it again. 

But I have that patience and passion now. 

After my novel's third draft is finished. 

Unknown History

I've been scouting pinterest because I have no bookshelf in my living room. And I need a place to put my books out in the public areas of my home, not just hoard them all in my bedroom.

I was over on Janet Reid's blog (a literary agent) today. One of the commenters had written about a rejection she received on her story idea from an editor who had implied she hadn't done her research. But the commenter had; she'd written it from a different point of view that's not often seen. 

It's important to hear different sides of history. I remember dad asking, back in the 1990's when I was in seminary, why do we need to rewrite history books. Because the history I learned in school was only white history. I learned very little about Native Americans and African Americans except from a white point of view.

And think about it. What is the first things colonizers often did and sometimes still do? Forbid use of native languages, burn or bomb or disrespect sacred sites or libraries which hold the history or the heart of native people--whether it's Iraq, Rwanda, the highlanders of Scotland, or the Native or African people of the U.S., etc. 

For the past three years, I have been pastor alongside an African American pastor who brought his small and struggling church with him. I'm learning many things--black people who were inventors, who made important contributions to science or mathematics, or who were movers and shakers. And as we develop relationships of trust, we share stories about our lives and who we are with one another. 

There are so many nuances and shades of gray in our world, so much to learn and so much beauty in our cosmos. Aren't you curious about everything, about people who are different from who you are? 

Blogs for Fiction Writers

As a newbie in the area of writing fiction, I follow several blogs as my goal is to eventually become a published novelist. (And yes, someday I want to head off to a Writer's Conference because I can only independently study so much and I wish to network with other authors)

Here are my favorite blogs. These first three publish fresh material each day.

  • Janet Reid, Literary Agent Janet Reid (aka the Shark) teaches the do's and don'ts of querying and creates a community of respect and faithful followers with her commenters (aka Woodland Creatures) who also have words of writerly wisdom to share in addition to hilarious humor, confessions, and what it's like to live in exile on Carkoon. The Shark often has 100-word Flash Fiction contests which provide wonderful examples of the creative prowess of the writers that frequent her blog and as she chooses the winners, explanations of how she looks at our works.

She also has Query Shark. The blog, at this time, has sporadic fresh material. And the extensive archives? An amazing wealth of information. Helpful for writing queries and for helping you pinpoint potential problems in your novel.

  • Writer Unboxed with articles by a consortium of writers, literary agents, and teachers on the craft of writing.
  • Fiction University with Janice Hardy has many common sense articles ranging from the macro-knowledge about story structure to the micro-knowledge about scenes and syntax. 


Here are other blogs I enjoy following, which publish 2-3 times each week:

  • Writers in the Storm with a consortium of writers or teachers. New material is published on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
  • Helping Writers Become Authors with K.M. Wieland, who has many analyses of story structure on movies in her database, and has a book out about story structure.
  • Live, Write, Thrive by C.S. Lakin, who has been going through scene by scene analysis, since January, of what makes a scene work and how to hook readers.