31 March 2014

Plot the Climax, Write the Climax, Re-Vision the Climax and Then Re-Write the Climax of Your Story

I love her confidence and energy and enthusiasm. She captures ideas and events and scenes from a vivid imagination, pins them into a beginning, middle and end, sets up a series of plot consultations with me, shares characters and goals and action until they shape themselves into a story with a plot ~ and what a plot she has!

Last novel we did this way and she wrote from beginning to end is now in the hands of an agent who asked for the entire manuscript. Last novel took 4 two-hour sessions to plot from beginning to end over several weeks. This novel, we finished in 3 two-hour sessions. As we were plotting, she was writing. Lots of scenes have been written. She's eager to write the entire novel from beginning to end.

She's in the flow of the creative process and in the flow of a working writer ~~ submitting one novel while beginning another novel. Seems to have few if any internal flaws interfering with her progress. She's open to change and different ideas, not at all attached to her 1st ideas, more concerned with the good of the story itself. She demonstrates lots of strengths supporting her progress. I'm thrilled for her -- an empowered writer who isn't letting anything stand in her way of success.

The climax of her current novel deepens her fast-paced, external dramatic action concept in a truly exotic world and time into an exploration of a unique and unexpected ending, one that leads readers to ponder outside the genre towards new ways of acting and all the way into what's possible even in our real world today.

I love her for clearing time for us to thoroughly discuss the climax. What she starts with feels right, in a predictable sort-of-way. Yes, the story is all about big, loud external moments and the climax more than satisfies that pace and mood and tone. She's willing to explore something more meaningful and different to leave the reader not only satisfied--wanting more. She has "been so careful not to use clich├ęd phrases, metaphors, and settings and have worked to make every element uniquely your own. Why settle for a trite ending? When a character rises in triumph at the climax, what does she look like, act like? In the resolution, what does the world look like now that she is new and different and transformed and has shared the gift she came to share? Everyone is looking for answers. Stories offer a new vision to replace the old, especially now that so much of the old world order falls apart.

"That fabulous beginning of your story and that wild twist in the middle do not count nearly as much as to a reader as the end of the story. Sure, you hope she looks back and sees how everything is seamlessly tied together. In fact, what she’s going to think about first is how the story ends. Readers and audiences are affected first and foremost emotionally by the story they read, whether the story evokes fear or anger, joy and celebration, or sadness and resignation. Connecting with readers emotionally to the point they become instinctively involved in the story is the dream of every writer. The best place to search for this emotional effect is at the climax.

Think different. Look beyond the words and sentences and scenes to the deeper pattern of your story. Every protagonist begins a story wanting something. The real reason that she goes after what she wants never (or rarely) is her stated reason. In fact, at the end of the story the protagonist can, and often does, fail at her stated goal. The reader cares because she knows the protagonist has actually won what she wanted and all that really matters is herself. She has gained self-knowledge and because of that she has been changed and transformed. After having all of her layers stripped away one by one as false or unreliable, the protagonist reaches the point where she either must break down and live an unlived life or stand straight and rely on herself. To do that, first she must find the self on which she can rely. This is why often in a story, the protagonist’s stated goal fades and is replaced by the real goal.

"Writers today must reach, think differently, and stretch when it comes to writing the climax of a story. A protagonist’s actions at the climax inspire the reader to think big and different and grow and evolve. Get the ending just right and deliver the greatest impact.

"Discarded along the Way. Often writers discard scene ideas for the climax, thinking they’re not good enough, important enough, or worthy enough. After the work you’ve completed in this workbook, you may now see these discarded scenes in a different light. Perhaps you spot something of tremendous value in that scene you earlier abandoned. Now is a great time to explore those ideas that seemed once to hold no promise. Stretch the boundaries of your current writing skills and risk trying something new for your climax.

***A fixed mindset about how a story should end is much less successful than a growth mindset. Some writers are afraid of what others will say about them if they write a climax that does not fit the image they portray to the outside world. Push your abilities. Open up to new ideas. Take risks. Expect some real climax failures as you come up with new ideas. Failures are a sign you have taken on a challenge. Taking on writing challenges expands your writing skills." (excerpted from: Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-Step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories

Today I write.
For more: Read my Plot Whisperer and Blockbuster Plots books for writers.