Sorry I’m publishing this so late, but I’ve been querying agents all day for my book, Deception.
So in this chapter, I’m going to talk about Climaxes. If you look at the plot diagram below, you will see the box in the middle of the top, labelled “Climax”. *
There are a few things you need to know about the climax of your story. First, if you are holding anything back from the reader, this is where you tell them. This is when you want to drop a bomb on the top of their head and make them freak out because a character just got shot, or you find out something so huge that you need to sit down. This is where you want them to cry, or scream, or simply hold onto the book tighter and keep reading.
This is when your book will be filled with so much emotion that everything that you’ve built up in your rising actions just kind of… explodes. It’s where you bring everything together and all of those little hints you dropped throughout your book all add up to something bigger than your reader could have imagined.
Second, this is where we really need to compare to the Hero’s Journey archetype. Remember back in chapter four, when we talked about the journey that every heroic character seems to follow? If not, backtrack a bit and come back.
The Ultimate Boon is the step that is pretty much the climax, when everything is about to shift into something else. It’s where your protagonist puts their plan into action, or when they try to solve their problem but something terrible goes wrong. But that’s not all.
The next step in the Hero’s Journey is The Magic Flight, which is like a second climax, as I like to call it. This is where your character’s actions in the climax kind of backfire at them, or another obstacle is introduced. The repercussions of their failure, so to speak.
Let’s just say this: The climax is confronting the bad guy, the tension that makes the reader cringe, that big reveal that the bad guy is really the protagonist’s evil twin (sorry for the cliche). The Magic flight, or the second climax if you sill, is the gunfight that comes after the evil brother kills someone or did something to ruin the plan or just attacks your protagonist.
The key thing about your climax is to give the reader what they want. Other than the whole writing-a-story thing goes, the climax is kind of a reward for the readers who kept reading through all of the other stuff. And it is always, at least for me, the most fun to write.
Second maybe to the ending.
Here’s how you make your climax the best possible that it can be: Think of the worst thing that could happen to your protagonist and make them fail. Now multiply it by ten. Now your protagonist is totally screwed and there is no way out of the situation.
Here’s how you make your Magic flight the best possible it can be: Think about some detail from earlier in the book that your reader probably absorbed but disregarded compared to bigger things. Now use it to help your protagonist get out of this impossible situation. Make it so they succeed just by the tiniest, most improbably, sliver of luck.
Or don’t let them succeed. See what happens then.
Want an example? Well I’ll give you a few.
In my next novella being published in July (SPOILER ALERT), Flying Under the Radar, I pretty much thought this: There’s a bad guy, and there’s a plane. The worst possible thing that could happen would be if the bad guy got control of the plane while my protagonist is on it. And then I’ll multiply it by ten. Not only will the bad guy gain control, but he will crash the plane and maybe kill the protagonist.
STAYED TUNED IN JULY TO SEE WHAT HAPPENS NEXT!
Here’s another example: Spoiler alert if you haven’t read the Hunger Games.
In the Hunger Games, there is an announcement that tells the players that there can be more than one victor if they are from the same district. Climaxes are like races, and this is where the contestants start running. Now is when things turn around, for the better or for the worse.
And then, in every race, the crowd is cheering, and there’s competition, and nobody can take their eyes of the book. And the climax is the battle, but crossing the finish line, with the winner and the medals, that is the magic flight.
There were several climaxes in that book, but the biggest one, I would say, is the battle with Cato there are the end. With the muttations, the dogs that look like the other tributes. The berries would be the aftermath, the second climax.
Sorry that this is a short chapter, but it is important as always! Thank you so much for reading and I hope this helps you when your writing!
*The link from which the plot diagram photo was found is here: http://www.portnet.k12.ny.us/Page/10210 . I don’t any rights to this photo so I’m giving this website the credit, but you should check out that site for more things like it that can help with writing:)