Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A Dark, Dark Night On a Dark, Dark Street

When my boys were little they asked my husband to read and reread this little book. I wish I still had it. It was about a father and son skeleton going out on the town. I can only remember the start, "It was a dark, dark night on a dark, dark street in a dark, dark town..." You get the idea. My husband would read it to them in his dark, dark voice.

I always think of that book for some reason when people talk about the dark moment in their novel. Movies and TV shows have dark moment too. You know that point in the story when despair and desperation sets in. Everything that could go wrong does and maybe a little bit more. There's no way out for the good guys. The best dark  moments have physical and emotional dangers ready to pull the protagonists into the abyss of failure. The dark moment can only be conquered only by the hero or heroine making a decision or taking a chance that requires sacrifice of some sort.

I'm in the middle of writing the dark moment in my current WIP, War Dragon, the sequel to First Dragon. In a series with an ongoing saga like my current works, there's a dark moment in each book. But each book also builds toward the greater dark moment of the series. The good guys are losing ground in each book. Which brings me to the next point.

The main characters have to be tortured, hurt, trapped torn apart or something equally terrible to create a compelling dark moment. I'm cringing as I type in the horrors visiting my characters in the next 15K of manuscript. They won't all survive.  Now that's dark.

Do you have fun writing the dark moment or does it hurt you to hurt your characters? Have you ever watched a TV show and guessed at what time the dark moment will occur? Usually about 45-50 minutes in, I think. Have you read books where the dark moment was too easily solved?


  1. Perhaps I'm a bit sadistic when it comes to writing. I like torturing my characters. I usually can guess when the dark moment occurs in shows and books. There's a rhythm to plots. I've only been surprised a few times, or let down. I want to find that skeleton book to read to my son! He'd love it. :)

  2. The skeleton book sounds like a hoot. I realize all fiction has dark moments that create suspense, but I prefer to read dark moments that aren't too terrifying.

  3. I'm not a dark person, so I really have to push it. And killing them off? Did that once. It wasn't fun.

  4. I'm in the "dark" section of my novel right now too. I've avoided it for awhile now because it's hard for me emotionally. But if we don't push our characters to the brink then they never get to prove how awesome they are. :)

  5. I'm a big fan of film noir so I think big long dark dark moments or many moments. If characters don't go into the dark for at least a while then they can't come back into the light and notice the difference.

    A Faraway View

  6. What a cute was a dark dark night. I'd love to read that.

    My dark moments are really only murky at best. I don't push my characters to the brink of disaster, but I do allow them to give up all hope. Not so dark, but really emotional. Which is what I actually love. If I can make a reader cry, I've done a good job.

  7. Those dark, desperate moments are some of my favorite to write - not because I enjoy hurting my characters, but because that's when the emotional intensity is so strong that the story takes on a life of its own.

    And pretty much every episode of the TV show The Walking Dead has a dark, desperate moment. Love it! :)

  8. It was a lullaby book by (try saying that phrase 10X) Janet & Allan Ahlberg. Very cute book. Never could figure out how the kid was supposed to sleep afterwards. LOL.

    "In a dark, dark town there was a dark, dark street
    and in the dark, dark street there was a dark, dark house,
    and in the dark, dark house there were some dark, dark stairs
    and down the dark, dark stairs there was a dark, dark cellar
    and in the dark dark cellar…."

    1. I heard this lullaby in the 1960s so it predates the cartoons and the books. Do you know the origin of it? I've looked all over and cannot find where it began.

  9. Oh, Joylene, thank you. I'm going to find it again.

  10. It is hard to put our characters through so much but hopefully they'll be better (and happier!) people at the end. Unless you're George R. R. Martin.