Thursday, July 01, 2010
Black Moments and Grand Finales
When I analyze book and movie plots, I can get very clean and structured. This is the crisis, that over there is the climax, and this other thing, it's the resolution.
But when I'm actually in the midst of the writing? I have no clue. Once I'm done, then I can look at what I've done, and see where the various pieces fall, but in the midst of the writing--I suppose it's that I've internalized it so well I don't have to consciously think about it, or something. Because I haven't ever forgotten any of the pieces, so far, anyway.
Every story has a black moment--that moment when all seems lost, the bad guys are going to win, and nothing will ever be right again. I don't care what kind of story it is, there will be a black moment. Little Red Riding Hood has a black moment ("All the better to EAT you with!"). The Wizard of Oz has a black moment (the wizard's hot air balloon leaves without Dorothy). Sweet romances and women's fiction and urban fantasies and every story has a black moment that sets up the climax--the point where the story begins rolling downhill to the resolution of all the conflict.
Each black moment, with its attendant climax, resolution and denouement, suits its own story. All together, these things create the conclusion of the story. The ending. Each thing has its own part to play. I have written endings that were 3 pages long, and I have written endings that were several chapters. Because I write adventure stories--romance or not--I tend to write big "grand finale" type endings. (I have a picture of an airplane on this post, because there are airplanes like that one in the current story.) There's usually a big final confrontation with the bad guy that coincides with the black moment and all the rest. I often stick in my characters' "dark night of the soul" and their "moment of realization" into the middle of this big battle/what-have-you. (Sometimes it's a battle, sometimes it's sneaking around, sometimes it's hand-to-hand combat or a rescue.)
I am in the midst of the "grand finale" of the current book. I'm not sure I've quite reached the blackest of the black moments yet--just the kickoff one. Things will get blacker yet. This particular story is a big, sprawling adventure and needs a big sprawling ending. I really don't want to rush it, and yet, I can't drag things out either. But, it's partly why I need this 100 words a day to get through it. There's a lot to it. Lots of action. Lots of emotion. Lots of character turmoil.
So, there you have it. Adventure stories need adventurous endings. Romantic stories need romantic endings (you can have the romance in the adventure--or at least the "thinking about romance"). Emotional stories need emotional endings. Quiet stories need quiet endings. If they're quiet and romantic, then both those things need to be there. In this book, I have to have adventure, and romance, and emotion, and...
Huh. Didn't realize I was doing all that. I'd rather not think about it. It will scare me into not writing again.
Yeah, I'm on Day 9 of the writing. Go me!