One of the most gratifying aspects of reading and going to the theater is the experience of living someone else's life (meaning to enter into the protagonist's skin) and surviving a Crisis. Stories give us the idea that we, too, can survive the dark night of the soul and know that moment when consciousness slays the ego.
Suspense builds as we read or watch for what the character does next.
When we, in real life, get hit with a Crisis, we can either accept what is and move on OR we can return to unconsciousness, crippled by victimhood.
In stories, the Crisis (the scene of most energetic intensity in the story so far) serves as a slap in the face, a wake-up call, the moment when the character becomes conscious of life's deeper meaning (thematic significance = look for more on this in the next blog post).
Stories are about, at their core, their essence, character transformation. After the Crisis, in order for character transformation to occur, the character moves out of unconsciousness to a place of acceptance.
The author decides whether the character will move from the Crisis to acceptance only, or whether she will move on into enjoyment and ultimately, if she sets a goal for herself, to enthusiasm.
After the Crisis, the character is now consciously even more aware of all the sensory details around her, more alive, more alert. She is absolutely present in what she does. The reader senses the alert, alive stillness within the character in the background of the action.
Her earlier goal -- outer purpose -- expands into something much bigger now that she is empowered by consciousness. This new strength, insight, power fills her with enjoyment in the next step towards transformation. Added to that enjoyment comes an intensity and creative power beyond her imagining.
Once the character is awakened -- thanks to the Crisis, -- she moves toward her outer goal and her enjoyment turns into enthusiasm. From this moment on, the story's energy field vibrates. Tension builds. Behind each step the character takes, the story grows in intensity and energy.
The character is more involved in each step (moment-by-moment action) as she steadily moves toward her goal than she is at arriving to her goal. Stress falls away. Confident she will arrive at her goal, in the knowing, she savors each moment in aliveness, joy, and power.
"[The character] will feel like an arrow that is moving toward the target--and enjoying the journey." A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle.
The Climax is the "target" -- the moment when the character steps out of her ego and into pure alignment with the creative source.
The Climax (the scene of highest energetic intensity much more so than that of the Crisis) is the place where the character is once again tested. In the Climax, the character is often confronted again by her greatest antagonist. Unlike earlier encounters, this time, however, the character is able to yield, walk around, embrace, or turn the opposing energy into a helpful one. Because of all the antagonists she has been confronted by and learned from along the way (the Middle = 1/2), at the Climax, the character is able to show us yet another way to live life in triumph.
The reason the story can not continue for many pages moments or pages after the Climax is that when a goal is met the tension is gone.
In the Resolution, the character surrenders to the return movement in a state of joy and the story ends.
In a series, at the end of one story, the author promises a new wave of creative energy to come along with renewed enthusiasm.
(NOTE: I invite you to also consider the above elements of the Universal Story form as a template for your own individual writer's journey. In your knowing of the structure, you are able to bypass a Crisis yourself and rather, everyday write with a sense of consciousness more concerned with the next sentence than reaching the end, more concerned with sending out queries than attaining an agent, more concerned with your next story than reviews...)