by Sylvie Kurtz
I like to put a “magic moment” at the mid-point of my stories. Something happens that binds the hero and heroine closer together on an emotional level. It’s a preview of how things could be if they could get over their flaws or their fears, a small glimpse of the possible ending. So they kiss for the first time, or have sex for the first time, or form some sort of emotional connection. We see their specialness together.
But the power of this connection scares them, so their inner demons flare up, and they pull back physically or emotionally from the connection. They aren’t ready for heaven yet. Their fears are getting in the way. But for that one magic moment, they saw a different way of living.
The result is that now all the stakes are higher, because the relationship has taken on more power. Their emotional bond is tighter. They understand each other on a deeper level. They’ve seen what the other can do to enrich their lives. The getting or giving up of the goal takes on more importance, because now relationship factors in. Will he give up the goal for the girl? Will he go for the girl and give up the goal? There’s no going back to the status quo. Even if he could at this point, he’s had a taste of something different, so the status quo wouldn’t satisfy him anymore, and worse, he’s now aware that he can never go back to the way things were, and that scares him. He can’t go back. But going forward means heading in that scary unknown.
In Heart of a Hunter the magic moment is an afternoon skate on a pond where the old Olivia and the emerging Liv come together, and Sebastian, for the first time, recognizes he likes parts of this new woman. We get a taste of what their relationship will evolve to once they make peace with themselves and their roles. They’re skating on the edge of something new and wonderful—and it scares them both.
In A Little Christmas Magic, the magic moment occurs during an ice storm. What each of the characters truly desires is a family. During this ice storm, they become a family. We see their emotional bond tighten as they help each other through the crisis and realize they are absolutely what the other needs. Their frozen hearts are thawing.
In the movie Just Like Heaven, the magic moment is when Elizabeth realizes that she’s in a coma. She tries to put herself together and fears that if she can’t, she’ll die. Then David touches the comatose Elizabeth’s body, and she can feel his touch on her ghost form. They’ve achieved a way to connect. We know this is a special connection, because even though her niece can also see her, Elizabeth can’t feel her niece.
If you can make this scene metaphorical, you’ll add an extra layer of depth. This is because images are the language of the soul. A symbol reaches all the way down to the level where no words are needed to create understanding.
In A Little Christmas Magic the warm house in the ice storm serves as a metaphor. It shows the theme of living vs. dying. Their frozen hearts are thawing, but they still have a way to go to find their way out of the storm.
In Heart of a Hunter the metaphor is the pond ice, which echoes the fragile state of their relationship. At any moment, they could crash through and get soaked.
In Just Like Heaven the metaphor is the touch—which echoes the theme of connection.
To prevent a sagging middle, think about creating a magic moment for your characters. One that gives the reader a peek at the possible gain or loss for your characters and launches them to the next step of their transformation.