Wednesday, April 27, 2022

That black moment: Part 2

Storm clouds

I've mentioned in the past that I tend to not like it when the hero is forced to grovel a great deal in order to atone for some supposed wrongdoing or when the obligatory black moment takes place and everything goes to crap for the hero and heroine. I always find reading books that lead up to those moments extremely unpleasant to read because I feel this anxiety and tension while reading that leaves me very uncomfortable. I read to escape and be entertained and I do not enjoy intentional discomfort in my reading. That is not an outcome that I look for.

However, even as I say that, conflict is necessary in a story to create interest and excitement. I guess it all depends on where the conflict comes from and how it's handled. Me? I'm a wuss, so I tend to prefer my conflict from external sources such as the heroine being in danger from a bad person, or the hero and heroine having some puzzle they need to solve. I'm not one for angst and drama in the story that is caused by miscommunication or misunderstanding between the hero and the heroine which is common in a lot of contemporary romance. Nor am I a fan of the characters having some kind of personal crisis or growth/development kind of moment where they push the other person away for whatever reason. Sometimes those can feel rather manufactured.

Here's what happens to me when I'm reading a book where the black moment is coming up. I get tense and uncomfortable. Depending on the build up to that point, I also start to feel rather anxious. Believe me, discomfort and anxiety are not outcomes I look for when I'm reading for pleasure, hence me avoiding most books that are branded as dark unless I do a lot of research into the book before reading, or certain tropes which I know tend to have a lot of conflict and drama in them like enemies to lovers, love triangles, and second chance romances. I've even written about why I don't like those tropes.

Couple arguing

That's me though. I know a lot of people enjoy conflict and I've certainly seen a lot of readers say that the more the conflict and drama the better because they want the book to rip their hearts out and stomp all over them. A lot of readers feel that without the black moment, the story is incomplete or things are too easy for the couple and that's not realistic. Look, not every relationship in real life is fraught with drama and conflict. In fact, I'd even hazard to say that relationships like that in real life are difficult and may not have any longevity. Sure relationships have their ups and downs, but to have the level of rockiness one would read in a romance novel is just not realistic or doomed to failure.

In a romance, I agree that a relationship needs to be tested to some extent to make it interesting for the reader, but does it have to be extremely intense or dark, not necessarily. At least not for me. As one reader commented in a post asking about the black moment, "the black moment is a delicate balance. Too arbitrary or easily addressed conflict, and it's annoying. Too dark or horrific, and the author could lose the reader. "

Woman standing at sunrise

As a reader, I'm more into a light grey moment because I know that all romance stories need a little bit of a bump in the road. But I like them to be resolved quickly and with minimal stabbing me in the heart. Of course, I understand not all stories and books can be like that so I choose my reading material carefully.

Of course, there are authors who don't have the black moment in their books at all and that takes a tremendous amount of skill and finesse to keep the story and plot flowing and interesting in order to deliver a satisfying story. I've read numerous books where there's always some kind of light grey moment because those are my preferred reads, but I can't off the top of my head think of any books where there has been no black moment at all. I think I'd like to read a book with no black moment just to see what that's like.

Sad woman covering face with hands

There's always going to be highs and lows when it comes to a well told story. For me, it's about how extreme it gets whether I'm on board with the conflict and the black moment or not. Some authors take it to the extreme and stretch their characters about as far as they can go and even have a go at snapping them. Others throw in a little something something to keep things interesting and do it just because it's required. It varies so much from book to book. I've learned to be smarter about picking the books I read and whether I am going to enjoy them or not and sticking to authors that I know will not rip my heart out and laugh maniacally at my pain.

So what do you like as a reader? Do you live for that black moment and all the conflict? Do you, like me, prefer your conflict in a lovely shade of light grey? Or would you just like to skip it altogether? I'd love to know. What shade of black or grey are you?

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  1. I also don’t care for too much angst and drama. And I also prefer the moment to come from an outside source. But I hate when the leads fall for some stupid ploy by the antagonist too.

    1. I don't think I've read too many where the leads fall for some stupid ploy by the antagonist but I did read one like that recently. The heroine is being stalked and the stalker in order to get to the heroine kidnaps a friend of the heroine's and holder her hostage. Then the contacts the heroine and offers an exchange between herself and the friend. Of course, the heroine then ditches her bodyguard, runs off to exchange herself for her friend, and doesn't tell the hero about it because she knows better than the hero who is a professional in these situations. It really made me want to roll my eyes and smack the heroine, but I kinda understand her motivation at the same time since she was afraid for her friend's life. But still... yeah... 🤷🏻‍♀️🤷🏻‍♀️🤷🏻‍♀️