In a romance, the Big Dark Moment is the crucial juncture when all seems lost between the hero and heroine. He stomps away and she strides in the opposite direction, and it seems as though they will never be together again. How can they overcome their insurmountable obstacles? Will love triumph in the end?
Of course it will. The prerequisite for a romance is the HEA (Happy Ever After) ending. But for this HEA to have emotional impact, our characters first must experience the painful Big Dark Moment when their relationship seems hopeless.
Tossing a cog in the story wheel isn’t the way to go about it. This confrontation must arise naturally from the character’s internal conflicts. Take Paz and Jen from my WIP.
Jen is a fashion designer who looks as svelte as her models. For years, she struggled for parental approval. Growing up in a wealthy family, she internalized her mother’s superficial values that appearance matters. But she yearns for a man who can appreciate her for herself and not for her looks or money.
Drift Lord warrior Paz Hadar isn’t the rich businessman she’d expected to snag, but he brings out her strength and resourcefulness and admires her bravery. Yet when she tries to discuss their future together, he clams up. He’s planned for nothing beyond this mission, and so she figures he’ll leave her in the end. Paz, in turn, gets angry when she pushes him for his plans, believing she can’t accept him for the person he is and wants to mold him into the ideal man. And if he’s not good enough for her, forget it. And so he stomps off. Jen feels he doesn’t care enough about her feelings to truly confide in him.
Thus they go their separate ways, until each one realizes how much they need the other. But by then, Paz seeks to prove himself by attacking the enemy all on his own. Jen rushes to his side, but it’s too late. He’s been…well, we don’t want to give the story away.
Action and reaction propels the story forward, leading to the Big Dark Moment and the final confrontation with the villain. And when Paz and Jen finally commit to each other as we know they will, we’ll heave a deep sigh of satisfaction. Sour before sweet, despair before joy. It makes the ending all the more Happy Ever After.