Thursday, April 2, 2009

Moment of Hope (Part 1 of 2)

There are seven key emotional moments in a novel, the beginning, stasis equals death, the inciting incident, the mid-point, all is lost, the climax and the end. Of the seven, the climax is my favorite.

In my own writing, I’ve noticed what I will call the moment of hope. It is the emotional climax of the novel and may occur on one side or the other of the true climax. It may occur in the A plot, but it usually occurs in the B plot. It is that moment in which the reader realizes that this thing’s going to work, whatever it is.

In How to Become a Bible Character, our protagonist is in the hospital, not expected to live after taking a beating from his best friend’s father. The senior pastor’s wife is on her deathbed. Our first person narrator has called for a prayer meeting and expects just the faithful Wednesday night crowd to show up. When he and his family arrive at church, the building is filled with people, a testament to the influence our protagonist has had on the people around him. Our narrator, tries to find the words to comfort these people, but fears his words do little good. He asks them to gather in small groups to pray. As they do, someone comes up to him. “I need to be saved.” He leads this person to the Lord, but it doesn’t stop there. While he was doing that, the same thing was happening in the small groups all over the building. One from this group, two from another, beginning coming to him and saying, “I accepted Christ.” At this point, we still don’t know how the A plot will turn out, but in the B plot we have this moment that tells us, the good guys are winning again!.

Okay, you may not have read any of my books, so let’s look at the moment of hope in popular fiction. In Star Wars, Luke is the last hope to destroy the Death Star. He has enough trouble trying to hit a tiny shaft with a direct hit, but Darth Vader is on his tail. Han Solo, presumed to have left the fight, arrives and sends Darth Vader spinning out of control. “You’re all clear kid! Let’s blow this thing and go home!” Our protagonist still has to use his new found abilities to hit the vent shaft and the Death Star is about to destroy the rebels, but we have a moment of hope afforded to us from the B plot. There’s plenty more to do, but we have our first taste of victory.