21 September 2011

Keep the Climax in Mind

Three plot consultations with three separate writers, all with similar strengths and the same weakness. Each story has well thought out scenes that draw the reader into the Beginning 1/4 of the project. Each one develops character emotional development through dramatic action in the Middle 1/2. In other words, for these three writers, three quarters of their projects work, at least on a structural plot level.

At the end, these same three projects falter with little or no real Climax to top off the entire work. In each case, the protagonist is reawakened by the Crisis. They are shown struggling to take full ownership of their newly discovered consciousness. This is all good.

What starts as a twinge, in the quick build-up to the Climax, the protagonist more and more recognizes quite painfully each time her actions and speech do not align with her new understanding of herself and the world around her.

Trouble is, in none of the cases does the character show herself fully healing this schism at the Climax.

One writer wrote the Climax as the grandmother in the story dying. In this young adult novel, the protagonist is, necessarily, a young adult person and not the grandmother. The answer presented itself. In the Grandmother dying, the Climax takes on a deeper relevance as the protagonist of this young adult novel is given the opportunity to assist her grandmother's spiritual departure. Such an action demonstrates mastery at the thematic level. That death is looming sends the conflict, tension and suspense higher and the energy of the Universal Story soaring. The clock ticks. The sense of everything coalescing in the final minutes builds.

The Beginning sets up the scene of highest intensity in the story so far ~ the end of the Beginning. This scene shows the shift or reversal outside the character that sends her into the heart of the story world.

The middle sets up the scene of the highest intensity in the story so far ~ the Crisis. This scene shows the character’s consciousness of the shift or reversal inside her.

The End sets up the crowning glory of the entire story ~ the Climax. This scene shows the character fully united with her new self-knowledge, new understanding of the world, new sense of responsibility through her actions and her words.

The Climax is the crowning glory of the entire book. Once you write that most important scene all the other pieces begin to fall into place.

For more support, read Chapter 11 of:

For more about the Universal Story and writing a novel, memoir or screenplay, visit Plot Series: How Do I Plot a Novel, Memoir, Screenplay? on YouTube. A directory of all the steps to the series is to the right of this post.