10 December 2006

Ticking Clock

The last few consultations have brought writers with well thought out scenes that draw the reader into the Beginning 1/4 of the project. Each one was able to develop the 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.

However, these same three projects had 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.

But in none of the cases was the character shown having fully healed this schism in the Climax.

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.

In one case, the writer mentioned that she felt the Grandmother in the story would die. 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. That the grandmother was sick and death looming, the conflict, tension and suspense shoot higher. The clock keeps ticking. The sense of everything coalescing in the final minutes builds to a fevered pitch.

The Climax is the crowning glory of the entire book. Once you write that most important scene all else will fall into place.

T.S. Eliot said, “The end is in the beginning.” The Beginning of any comprehensive and well-crafted story tells as much about where we are going as to where we will be at the end. This means that until you write the Climax you will not truly know the Beginning. Keep writing all the way through to the Climax.