Oftentimes, readers talk more about a book they hated than one they love. Whether they love or hate yours depends a lot on the Climax.
Welcome to Lesson #3 of Part 2! In this particular study, we will review the center of your novel: Climax.
The Climax is the most memorable part of the book, most times. It’s very important for you as an author. If the buildup is amazing and the Climax is a total letdown, then you know they’ll be some less-than-positive reviews. That’s one thing readers absolutely detest: a letdown.
I’m sure you’ve read a book that promised so much, and failed to deliver on the promise. What’d you feel? Mad? Disappointed? That’s what you don’t want your reader to feel. For sure, for sure.
What is the Climax?
It is one of the most memorable parts in the book, mainly because it is the peak of emotions. The Climax is where everything comes together and there’s a showdown. The heroes fight the villains, there’s lots of drama, and eventually somebody wins.
There’s a couple things that are very important to remember about the Climax:
1- It can have/be a plot twist. The Climax should be unpredictable. While the reader will probably know the location, they won’t know exactly what happens. They should be wondering, “How’s the good guy gonna win this?” and then do it in a way that’s different from what they’d expect.
2- Characters can die. This is one way to do a major plot twist. Have somebody die. Normally, it’s not the main character. Although I did that once in one of my books, and nobody sent hate mail, so it can work! Like most areas of writing, do write what is right for what you write. Your story decides, not the readers.
3- It should be captivating
What’s a good Climax do?
A good Climax should keep the reader’s attention for the entire time. The rising tension leading to it will grab them, but the Climax has to deliver on the promise you’ve made. And you have made a promise. You’ve said, “This Climax is worth a couple dollars and lots of hours to read.” If you let the reader down… they’ll be wanting their time and money back.
Often, the Climax is the most memorable part in the book. It comes near the end, unless there are multiple Climaxes. The last one, however, is the most important, because things will finally be resolved after it.
It’s okay to leave questions at the end, especially if you’re going to write a sequel. However, the Climax should always give the reader a sense of completion and fulfillment. If you don’t give them what they want -and expect- you’ll regret it.
If you’re writing Fantasy, they want an awesome battle. If you’re writing Horror, they want some blood-chilling good-versus-evil scene. There’s a cliche what’s expected for every genre. This is one of the cliches you’d do well to listen to.
One way to make the Climax exciting is a plot twist. Right before the buildup, you throw a wrench in the story. You shock the reader, and they’re thinking, “Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! What now??” And then you slowly, evilly, brilliantly build up to the Climax.
If your Climax is amazing, the chapters after can suck. If your Climax is terrible, you’re losing a reader. Oftentimes, readers talk more about a book they hated than one they love. Whether they love or hate yours depends a lot on the Climax.
Can there only be one?
As I mentioned earlier, the final Climax is the most important part. But how can there be a “final” one if there are none before it?
Well, some would argue that a Climax is “the point of highest emotional intensity in a story” (said my English teacher.) In other words, the most exciting part. But I think there can be multiple most exciting parts, and thus there can be multiple Climax scenes.
In one of the books I wrote, there is a scene about three-fourths of the way in that could be the Climax. However, I wanted the book to be longer so I didn’t end the story there. I added another 20,000 words. Which meant I needed another Climax. One plus one equals two.
Besides my own work as an example, there are plenty of novels and movies with two or more scenes of high excitement. Most common is in action movies, and also in Fantasy novels. There’s no limit to the amount of these scenes, but obviously keep them low in number.
Never ever try to force a Climax scene. It’ll just work out for itself. If the excitement starts building, then awesome! You’ve got one. But that might be all you need. This isn’t something to think about as you write. Just go back and look over the story once you’re done.
A Climax is important. It’s not hard to do, but it’s easy to mess up. You have to captivate, you have to entertain, and you have to leave a lasting impact. If you’re looking for “word of mouth” sales, then this is the road to take: Improve your Climax.
I hope this lesson has been very helpful for you. Come back next week as we descend down Plot Mountain and go over Falling Action!
I’ll see you there. Wink wink.