Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Life in a Zoo: The Fictional Version- Sweetie's Blackest Moment

When writing a story, at some point the main character must go through a devastating event. It is called the Black Moment. The writer must bring the character to the height of hope and expectation. Then some horrible thing happens that makes it seem like the end of the world.  Now the character must recover from that experience.

When thinking of what this could be, I remembered an event that happened in my pre-zoo days. We had been given quite a few geese.  That first spring, we had geese setting on eggs. 

Each goose had chosen a place for her nest. Some were under sheds, some under bushes, and one had chosen to put her nest in an old doghouse. Fortunately, none of the dogs needed it.

One mid-summer afternoon, disaster struck.  Thank goodness a volunteer veterinary gradate student was there helping with the critters.  (One of the perks of living near Auburn University Veterinary College)

It had gotten so hot, the doghouse overheated and so did the goose.  She went into convulsions, flapping and thrashing in her nest.  I ran over and dragged her out of the nest, but didn’t know what to do or how to help.  The veterinarian said she’d had a heat stroke. We cooled her down by submerging her in a large water pan and flushing fresh water over her.  I thought sure she would die, but quick action saved her life.

Once the seizure stopped, the vet gave her an IV of some sort. Bless her heart, she kept medical supplies in her car for all sorts of emergencies. We isolated the goose in the barn to keep her cool and calm.

I surveyed her devastated nest. Most of the eggs were crushed.  Many had not begun to develop because they were so deep in the huge pile of eggs, but I could see the remains of several developed goslings.

In the Thwarting of Mr. Dingsnapple the blackest moment of the story happens when Sweetie is sitting on her nest. Her eggs are nearly ready to hatch, but her shelter collapses in a storm and all but two of the eggs are crushed.

I remember how we all felt, and how the mother goose reacted to her destroyed nest. I tried to put myself in her place and think about how a loving mother might feel when she loses her baby. 

In a way, that wasn’t too hard because I have miscarried four times and lost my own precious little ones before they were born.  Writing this scene was actually very emotional for me. Sweetie and I shared the same black moment.


  1. Thanks for posting Emily,

    That's what it is supposed to be. We write best what we know, feel, and understand. The trick is to convey the message to the reader in such a way that they too, are awash with the same emotions.

    When I got serious about writing this book, early on I was given an assignment concerning the Black Moment.

    "Think of the single most horrible thing your main character must experience, then write about it"

    Once I had written it, I used it as the basis for the rest of the book.

    First, I went back and developed the story to lead up to that blackest moment in her life.

    Then I found a way to resolve it satisfactorily.