I will be the first to admit it, I am a Downton Abbey fan. Maggie Smith makes me chuckle. So its no surprise that I put the house to bed at 9 p.m. and sat down with a cup of tea to enjoy my guilty pleasure.
As always such a good episode. It was the next to last for season three. The episode brought the end to many small threads, would Matthew and Mary find out why they were not pregnant,Bates was released from prison but what would he do, how would Tom fit into the family now that Sybil is gone, and poor Mrs. Crawley's cook, how will the Dowager Countess get rid of a fallen woman who is trying to make good and causing so much chatter among the town folk.
Head spinning yet?
Well the writer did it in grand style. Not to mention dealing with a subject of an unwanted sexual advance by a male servant on a male servant. A delicate subject, broached, tackled and handled with grace as only the British can do. The writing on Downton is exceptional. It is crisp, full of action, and has you hanging on the edge of your seat. JUST what authors need to be doing.
To study a season, or an episode of Downtown is to bring strength an insight into your writing. Each episode is a book in itself complete with a beginning, middle, end, and the hint of romance. It gives you questions that can only be answered if you come back next week. In essence, each has its own little black moment that leads to the seasons jaw dropping ending.
The deep black moment of the season 4 will not be revealed for those who have yet to experience it. Yes, I'll admit, I cried. But for writers, its a visual show of how you think all is well until you have the rug pulled from under your feet at the precise moment that leads to gasps and cries of 'NO!'. This is what we need to do. As writers we can leave little moments of deep breaths, we need to bring our readers to that belief that all is well, then slam them back with a moment of total loss, devastating loss, a loss to great that only the heroic can over come it.
Your feet are pulled out from under you. Your chest hurts. All you can think to do is reach out and grasp the book with both hands and pray the author leads you out of this horrid black mess. This is what we want. Melodramatic? Perhaps. But isn't that why we watched and fell in love with Luke and Laura on General Hospital all those years ago? You betcha? We had to see if Scotty would ruin it.
So when writing, think about all your leads up to that black moment. Set your book up like a three act play. Figure your word count. Divide it into thirds and think to yourself okay, I want to leave the reader a clue near this amount of my work and then escalate. Remember from school, writing that paragraph you first have that minor detail, next important, most important... yep you are using this now. Your biggest, most heart dropping moment is that "BLACK MOMENT". It can't be gray, it can't be charcoal, it has to be black, from which no reader can think your characters can pull from. Then, let your characters show their true worth. Let them rise to the occasion and let your readers be lifted up with the reward.
Till next time...