Can you pass me the saw or black moment?

October 26, 2007 at 1:10 pm | Posted in Meg, tool kit | 3 Comments

I almost passed on the topic this week and had Jessica fill in for me. Toolkits…what the hell do I know about them? I couldn’t think of a list of unique resources or websites that we hadn’t already mentioned. Then I thought about the different tools you need for carpentry (I had a brief stint in building a Pottery Barn wall unit knockoff last year) and realized they weren’t so different than what is needed to building a sturdy, functional story.

Measurements or plan– could be spreadsheets, outlines or pantsing, but we all need an idea and notes to keep our writing consistent and on target
Nuts and bolts– your basic grammar lessons (consult an 8th grade textbook if you’ve forgotten them)
Nails– your characters-they hold the story together and need to have strong and concrete qualities so you know them
Screwdriver– POV, preferably deep POV that allows the reader to get into the head of the character
Wrench– those skills that tighten your writing- that horrid self-editing
Hammer– the conflict that drives home the theme and hits or hurts the characters

Saw– Oops!

This is where I realized I might be missing a skill- the climax or the black moment , the point of your story when everything seems lost for the hero and heroine. Do I have this in my current ms? I think so. There is a point in the book when the circumstances force the couple apart and you turn the page to someone else’s story. Literally. You don’t know until the end of the book if the first couple reunite. But is this a fair and accurate black moment or a writer’s manipulation of the ultimate cliffhanger? I don’t know.

So needless to say, I will be doing some homework to learn more about creating the black moment so I can add this to my toolkit. If anyone has any good resources on this skill, I’d love to hear about them!




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  1. Great post.

    It came to my attention (because I stopped to think – I should do that more often) that the hero and heroine have different ‘black moments.’ They come about because of the same backstory issue, but are 3 chapters apart and effect each differently. . . .wonder what people will say.

  2. Creating a black moment…you nailed my problem (pun intended)!
    I’m planning a novel for Nanowrimo and it’s all working out- except for the climax and the end.

    What do -you- do in these cases?

  3. hey Cosmic Whale
    As a possible NanoWrimo candidate (yes I signed up but not sure if I can pull it off this month), I’m in the same boat with the climax and ending. I have a fun premise and conflict, but no idea what will happen after that. What will I do? Listen to my characters and write! I’ve found that not plotting things out helps me to listen to the characters and discover what they want to do- what would make sense for them. Then again, I’m not a concrete planner nor is the ‘black moment’ something I’m 100% sure about. Check back in with me about November 20 and see if I’ve figured it all out! LOL And keep us updated on your progress as well!

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