Other names for this story moment are the Black Night of the Soul, the Bleakest Moment, the Death of Hope. This is the story’s climax, where your hero faces the worst complication possible. He’s at the end of his rope, no way out. And your readers keep turning those pages, scarcely daring to breathe…
The stakes are impossibly high, and your hero faces death, either physically or emotionally. Suddenly it’s time to face fears, cast caution aside, and fight. Or else decide to sacrifice happiness in order to save those he loves.
If you bring in help, tread carefully. Your lead should solve the problem on his own, or your readers will feel ripped off. An answer to prayer? Be sure to write honestly, according to your experience. Meaning that deliverance comes at the last desperate minute, in a way that’s both unexpected and calls for change (and often sacrifice) in those involved.
As you might guess, I’m not able to share the bleakest moment from Darcy By Any Other Name. But we can watch Collins-as-Darcy’s smug complacency get rattled, how’s that? In Chapter 25 we find him hovering outside Netherfield’s dining room, listening as Miss Bingley and her brother talk about him. Poor Collins. This sort of thing never ends well…
Through the door he could hear Caroline Bingley complaining to someone, perhaps her brother? Collins put his ear nearer to the opening.
“Her ladyship will be bringing her daughter here,” said Miss Bingley, “and without as much as a by your leave. If they were not so intimately connected with the Darcy family, I would turn them out, Charles. You know I would.”
“There’s no sense in making a mountain out of a molehill,” Collins heard Charles Bingley say. He sounded unhappy.
“I tolerate them for dear Mr. Darcy’s sake. As well as for dear Georgiana’s,” she added.
There was something about the way she said Georgiana that Collins did not understand, but no matter.
“And for mine as well, I hope,” said Bingley. “There is little I would not do for Darcy.”
There was a pause, during which Collins strained to hear. The chime of silverware against china, the rattle of a newspaper.
“I simply cannot believe the reports about the roads and flooding,” Miss Bingley said at last. “Mr. Darcy is improving by the hour. I do not see why we cannot leave for London today.”
“He is not fit for travel. And, more importantly, he is not fit for polite company. If you had seen how he behaved yesterday at Longbourn!”
Collins felt a flush mount to his cheeks.
Miss Bingley said nothing more, and Bingley pressed his point. “Yesterday evening,” he said, “how was he at backgammon?”
There was a pause. “Passable, Charles,” she said slowly. “His play was passable, but not brilliant. Does it seem to you that poor Mr. Darcy is rather…?” Caroline Bingley hesitated. “Oh dear, how shall I put this? Rather less intelligent?”
“If you ask me, he is a great deal stupider.”
Collins had been taught as a child not to eavesdrop; he now knew why. Miss Bingley was a fine one to call him stupid!
“Everyone has noticed the change,” Bingley went on. “I fear the poor fellow may never recover.”
“Of course he shall recover,” Miss Bingley said stoutly. “I shall make certain of that.”
“Caro,” her brother said more seriously, “given Darcy’s present state, Lady Catherine intends to take him with her to Rosings.”
Collins gasped. He would rather face prison than Rosings!
For there would be no rest, none at all. At every meal he would endure the company of Anne and Lady Catherine. And he would spend each evening with them in the drawing room, a boredom so complete that even visits from Darcy would be welcome.
Again came that stabbing thought, which extinguished his delicious dreams: Might you not be better off as yourself?
Monday’s post begins the final challenge week: U for Unrelenting.
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