I was reading Locke and Key (volumes 4 and 5, because I was a good girl and rewarded myself with books) the other day. Very good series, one of the best I’ve read. And in these two volumes, there were a couple of moments that were full blown Holy Shit Moments. Fucking serious, something just jumped off that page and gut-punched me moments. I genuinely could not put them down until I was done. And then, when I was, I had a second of intense frustration that I didn’t have another one right fucking now.
I had to tell someone about it, and the only other person I knew who’d read it was in Australia. But texting is a wonderful thing. Here’s part of the conversation:
Me: OMG, did you read L&K 4 and 5? O_O
Krys: YES I did.
Me: She [redacted]! With A FUCKING [redacted]!*
Me: And poor [redacted]. : (
Krys: I KNOW. Broke my fucking heart. : (
Not the wittiest I’ve ever been in a text conversation. But that was the point. I didn’t have it in me to be witty. I just wanted to share. Those moments of the story were so good that I had to text someone on another goddamn continent just to say, “Holy shit. That just happened.”
Moments like that are so fucking rare in fiction. I mentioned before that I’m having trouble finding a new great novel, and part of the reason all the ones I’ve tried so far have fallen short is that they lacked those Holy Shit Moments. There was never a second that the emotion I felt was so strong that I had to share it with someone else or burst. My heart, blackened and cynical organ that it is, was never in danger of breaking.
It’s a hard thing to write. And it’s so elusive. I can’t sit down here and just tell you what made those moments so strong.** They just were.
Writers, take note: those are the moments we should be striving for. We want to be able to drag people along for the ride. We want to break hearts. We want readers to care so much that we can break them.
I’m putting those moments from Locke and Key into my brain’s Hall of Records, where I keep all the Holy Shit Moments. *** Whenever I’m struggling to put words together and trying to remember what I should be doing, I can take those out and look. Not because I want to copy those things; I couldn’t, anyway. But because I want to remember that gut-punch, that moment of breathlessness. And I want to try to create moments like that of my own.
*You didn’t really think I’d spoil it for you, did you?
**Well, I could tell you some, but, again, spoilers.
***The Hall of Records also has a WTF? Gallery and a This Is Fucking Bullshit Display.