“Black Moment”

by
Donald L. Vasicek

Award-Winning Writer/Filmmaker Donald L. Vasicek/Turkey Creek Canyon in Colorado

The black moment in fiction writing is the moment in the short story, the novel, or the screenplay where the main character is challenged to overcome what has been his/her
Problem throughout the story. He/she either confronts it and beats it, or it defeats him/her.

How does your main character defeat and overcome this fear? Just before the villain (in fiction, a villain represents pure evil with no redeeming characteristics) or the antagonist (represents the opposition to the main character’s goal – can be a person, persons, or any of a million or more inanimate things, objects, or places) is about to defeat your main character, your main character should experience an epiphany. An epiphany is the sudden realization of something your main character has been trying to see throughout the story. This discovery will either push your main character over the top and your main character wins, or it causes your main character to withdraw into defeat.

In your story, you should have your main character striving to accomplish a goal. This goal should be set at about page 10 in the screenplay, and early on in a short story or novel, where you establish the goal of the main character. I call it the dramatic premise. The dramatic premise of the story sets in place what the main character will set out to achieve in the story.

In “To Kill a Mockingbird”, Harper Lee’s scintillating novel, the main character, Scout Finch, is challenged to learn about poking fun at a mentally-challenged neighbor. Her father, Atticus Finch, played by Gregory Peck in the movie, sets out to defend an African American man from being convicted of rape in a Southern and deeply racist community. Friends and Scout make fun of their mentally-challenged neighbor named Arthur (Boo) Radley even though Atticus tries to teach Scout how to be sympathetic regarding prejudice.

In the highly-charged story, Boo ends up saving Scout and her friends from the rape victim and her father, who are out for revenge, whom Atticus proved were lying during the trial. Even though Scout has a black cook, and she and her friends sit in the “colored balcony” at the trial, it isn’t until the rape victim’s father attacks Scout and her friend (the black moment in the story) and Boo saves them, that Scout realizes what life must be like for Boo.

She experiences an epiphany because of the attack. And she wins because she acquires the realization that that Boo is a human being and that hatred and prejudice should not sully her faith in human goodness.

Scout’s goal throughout the story is to learn and grow with respect to prejudice. And she accomplishes it through the black moment when she and her friend are attacked and Boo saves them. She experiences an epiphany at this point in time that causes her to learn and grow and to overcome the ignorance that held her back from becoming objective about the human condition.

Donald L. Vasicek
The Zen of Writing
http://www.donvasicek.com
dvasicek@earthlink.net

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About Donald L. Vasicek

Award-winning writer/filmmaker Donald L. Vasicek studied producing, directing and line producing at the Hollywood Film Institute under the acclaimed Dov Simens and at Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute. He studied screenwriting at The Complete Screenplay, Inc., with Sally Merlin, daughter of the famed Hollywood Merlin family of screenwriters and writers, as his mentor. Don has taught, mentored, and is a script consultant for over 300 writers, directors, producers, actors and production companies. He has also acted in NBC’s “Mystery of Flight 1501”, ABC’s Father Dowling starring Thomas Bosley, and Red-Handed Productions’ “Summer Reunion.” These activities have resulted in his involvement in over 100 movies during the past 23 years, from major studios to independent films including MGM’s $56 million “Warriors of Virtue”, Paramount Classic’s “Racing Lucifer”, American Picture’s “The Lost Heart” and “Born To Kill” starring the Charles Bronson of Korea, Bobby Kim, and his internationally-known brother, Richard, who directed, Incline Productions, Inc.’s “Born To Win”, 20th Century Fox’s “Die Hard II” starring Bruce Willis with Rennie Harlan as director, and Joel Silver as producer, Olympus Films+, LLC’s “Haunted World” with Emmy-nominated PBS Producer Alison Hill, and Olympus Films+, LLC’s “Faces”, “Oh, The Places You Can Go” and the award-winning “The Sand Creek Massacre” documentary film. Don also has written and published over 500 books, short stories and articles. His books include “How To Write, Sell, And Get Your Screenplays Produced” and “The Write Focus.” He has been a guest screenwriting and filmmaking columnist for Hollywood Lit. Sales, Moondance International Film Festival’s e-zine, Screenwriter’s Forum, Screenplace, Screenplayers.Net, Screenwriters.Net, Screenwriters Utopia, Spraka & Kinsla (Swedish), Inkwell Watch, and Ink On the Brain. Writing recognition includes Houston’s WorldFest International Film Festival, Chesterfield’s Writer’s Film Project, Writer’s Digest, The Sundance Institute, The Writer’s Network, and the Rocky Mountain Writer’s Guild, Inc. Don completed producing “The Sand Creek Massacre”, a documentary film project that includes the completed and award-winning documentary short, a book, a classroom video, Interactive Media, a study guide, and a lesson plans. The film is being distributed by Films Media Group. Don is on the board of directors of the American Indian Genocide Museum in Houston. He is the founder and owner of Olympus Films+, LLC, a global writing and filmmaking company and a screenwriting volunteer on AllExperts.com. Don’s screenwriting agent is Robin Kaver of the Robert Freedman Dramatic Agency, Inc., 1501 Broadway, Suite 2301 New York, NY 10036, 212-840-5751.

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