Saturday, June 30, 2012

Story Structure -- Climax

Hi folks, this is the last in my series of essential story turning points. Today I'm going to write about the pinnacle turning point of any book -- the climax. You know what it is, that moment we have all been waiting for -- Harry takes down Voldemort. Frodo defeats the eye of Sauron by tossing the Ring into the fires of Mount Doom. Mr. Darcy asks Elizabeth for her hand and finds her feelings are quite changed!

I mean a good climax is something you can never forget: a moment in a story where your protagonist triumphs, against all odds, against all obstacles, against every freaking thing you the author could throw at the poor gal or guy or bunny, etc. He, she or it has embraced truth, resolved difficulties and have found a way to the journey's end.

Ah, I feel so fulfilled. I mean, I'm so glad I stuck in there and reached the end of this story. The climax was a doozy. Everything is resolved and I can go to bed now because I've stayed up way past my bedtime reading and it was worth it. If a book has a really satisfying journey I will cut out time to reread it more than once. It will change my life. It will make me view the world in a new light. No pressure, dear writers, but I want you to write a book like this because I'm hungry to read books like that.

There are few things that can go wrong with the climax that I have noticed from time to time in books that I have read. Sometimes the climax is in the wrong order or is not big enough. The character took down the Philistine, the lion and finally the bear. Hey, that is the wrong order. Look at your story arc and make sure the conflict is rising. Or the character did a bunch of stuff but you know he met the girl and got the girl. No problems. It was pretty easy to destroy all those aliens too. Avoid. Avoid. Avoid.

Another problem is the the protagonist just doesn't get anything. This ending is a real bummer. You know he and the girl were going to hook up, but she decided to dump him and, yeah, that's it. In the last minute of the game, he fumbles the ball and it is totally not funny. The team loses and, yeah, that's it. Caution, the story does not have to work out for your protagonist, but your reader will thank you if you give her just a touch of satisfaction or hope or complete something for her. Katniss did end up with Peta in the end. Please. Please. Please.

One more problem that I see from time to time is the "Why not throw the kitchen sink at the protagonist too" climax. This one goes on and on. I mean, Billy Bob took down the zombie apocalypse, stopped the alien invasion, got the healing serum to Sanctuary, hooked up with Emmy Lou, climbed K-2 and resolved all his issues with his father. I mean, what was this book about anyway? Look at your ending. Books can only hold so much. Cut. Cut. Cut.

Oh, I hope something here helps your story reach its highest heights. I will be back next week with a new series about Pitfalls.  I've fallen into so many ditches writing.  Help is on the way.  See you next week.

This week's doodle is: "Face Study in Yellow."

Here is this week's quote:
Do what you can to do what you ought, and leave hoping and fearing alone. Thomas Huxley (Yes, his grandson wrote a Brave New World.)


Vijaya said...

Wonderful ending, Molly. You had me laughing at the end. Remember my first novel? I had everything but the kitchen sink in it ...

MollyMom103 said...

I have even thrown the kitchen sink in a time or two. :) M.