Climatic Climax

Your character is just about to find the bad guy/go in for that test/find the hidden key to return to the modern world.

And that thing – the big thing – happens. The Climax.

The climax is one of the biggest parts of the story, so you need to make it good, and is the bit that the entire rest of the book has been leading up to – the build up (obviously), all the little climaxes (or ‘crises’). 

Look at this picture of a story arc below:

story-arc-1

Lovely, isn’t it? Anyway.

Your story needs to build up to the climax steadily (but not too steadily, you want your readers to finish the book eventually!). Have little climaxes all the way throughout, so that your reader doesn’t get bored (see image: the four little bumpy things before the big bumpy thing). Here, I’ll use ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ as an example.

Obviously, the climax in this book is Harry defeating Prof. Quirrell by the Mirror of Erised. However, there are little climaxes leading up to it: for example, as a punishment, Harry is sent into the Forbidden Forest, and sees a) the Voldy/Quirrell combo drinking a unicorn’s blood, and b) a centaur for the first time. Boom: little climax.

Leading up the main climax, you need to do a thing called ‘foreshadowing’ (should I do an extra article on this?). This means dropping little hints all the way throughout, leading up to the climax. For example, your character might talk about death a lot, and end up dying. Don’t do this too much, though, you don’t want to make it too obvious: what you are really aiming for is for the readers to, when they read over your work again afterwards or get to the climax, go ‘Ooooh, now I get it!’ – not ‘Whoa, when did that happen?’, because they didn’t understand how it built up, which leads me on to…

You need to make sure it makes sense in the book. You can’t have a story that’s about something like a murder, and that is what it is about (eg solving it) and then the climax is a huge horse riding competition for the MC. It just doesn’t make sense, and the reader will know that, too. They’ll probably get confused, stop reading, and throw the book at your head.

Finally, after the climax comes the ending of the book, so dropping hints to the end of it and make sure that your book doesn’t end at the climax is a must. You need to be able to wrap up your story fairly rapidly after the climax; oh, but, that’s for another day!

So, to recap:

  • Use the build up and little climaxes to your advantage.
  • Foreshadow like hell.
  • Don’t have a really random climax (as in, out of context in your novel).
  • Make sure that you pave the way for you to finish your book – or, indeed, leave a cliffhanger for the sequel!

Hope that helps with your climaxes! Questions? Shoot!

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