06 January 2012

Cautionary Tale: You're Eventually Going to Have to Write the Climax

I've consulted several times with a writer of a successful non-fiction book by a major publisher and who also has written off-and-on for a few years a young adult historical novel. From time-to-time we spend a couple of hours together working out the overall plot.

After spending quality time writing the Beginning of her winning story, she wins attention in literary contests and the interest of editors.

Each time she receives feedback about the Beginning of her story, she goes back into the beginning, moves scenes around, further develops the protagonist's backstory and perfects the thematic details. Periodically, she calls for another plot consultations. Although she wishes only to concentrate on the earlier sections of the story, nonetheless, I gently probe for the Climax of her story. Her ideas are vague, at best.

Editors begin asking for more than the Beginning of the story. Again I hear from her. We concentrate on the Middle, while keeping the End and especially the Climax in sight at all times. Still, she resists, unable to get herself there.

She is asked for the entire manuscript by an editor and scrambles to finish the story. When she reaches the Climax she writes it like she dealt with it in the consultations -- vague. I hear from her again.

Again, although she calls expressly to talk about the End of her story, we rarely touch on the Climax. Instead, she dances around the story, coming up with all sorts of ideas for new subplots or to switch up a subplot already written.

I cannot tell you how frustrating it is to be on the other end of the phone with someone who is so near to the prize and yet be completely unable to focus on the necessary steps to get there. If we were together in person, I'd... what? Grab her by the shoulders and shake her? Force her to stare at the Climax on the Plot Planner until her eyes cleared?

No answers.

She's so near. Her story is so ready for and deserving of the crowning glory -- the Climax.


Beginning hook readers.

Endings attract fans... (and editors...)

(***Click on the highlighted plot concepts for novel, memoir and screenplay examples and further explanations via video. Each time a concept is referenced you are directed to new information about the Universal Story and plotting a novel, memoir or screenplay.)

To familiarize yourself with the Universal Story and the basic plot terms in the above blog post:

1) Read The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master (Now also as a Kindle edition)

2) Watch the 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. 27-step tutorial on Youtube

3 Watch the Monday Morning Plot Book Group Series on YouTube. A directory the book examples and plot elements discussed is to the left of this post.

For additional tips and information about the Universal Story and plotting a novel, memoir or screenplay, visit:
Blockbuster Plots for Writers
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