Sunday, December 27, 2009

On Climaxes & Resolutions

Good morning! I took the day off yesterday so we could have a family day. It was really nice. :)

Anyhoo, today we're talking about climaxes.

Get your minds out of the gutter, folks! I don't mean it like that! LOL. No, we're talking about climaxes & resolutions in stories. Sorry to disappoint you. ;)

Ok, as we all know, the climax is the high point of your story. That should be the point of the most intense action or emotion. You can have small build ups along the way, but the climax is the highest point in your story. Those little incidents should help contribute to the larger climax. Your entire story needs to build up to that very moment.

How do you do this? Well, first off, it's important to know how you want your story to end and go from there. I have a strange way of writing and that is from both the beginning and the ending and then working my way towards the middle from both ends. It helps me to build a good climax because I already have the resolution written out. That gives me the ability to foreshadow and really build up the story line to an intense point. Even if you don't have your ending completely written out, as long as you have a vague idea of how you want your story to end, you can figure out all of the events and emotions that lead to your climax so you can end it with the resolution you want. Does that make sense?

I'd really love to reference Unbreakable Hostage right now because the climax of that book is really strong and I could break it down for you. However, that would not do me any good as it would ruin the point of my book sales! LOL. :)

So, let's just imagine you have a good love triangle story that leads up to two men fighting over the same woman. Every event and interaction these characters have had throughout the book have led to this confrontation. These two men are in this situation, emotions are running high and they just go at each other. They're screaming, punching, whatever. The fight needs to be detailed and intense. If your climax is...well, anticlimactic, then you're doing your readers and yourself a huge disservice.

Make that scene as strong, detailed and suspenseful as you can. This is it. The height of your story has to be high, otherwise you might as well have no climax at all. So really describe how they're breathing on each other during the fight, their grunts, the sweat pouring off their bodies, etc. When I wrote the climax to Unbreakable Hostage, I actually choreographed the scene (as best I could since it was just me). Use your own physicality and physical abilities to help the scene. The more detailed and realistic it can be, the better!

Now that brings us to resolutions. Technically, the resolution of the story comes right after the climax and shouldn't be too long. BUT,it is important that you tie up all the loose ends. You can't just have a climax and leave your reader wondering what happened to character x. Do they live or die? Are they in the hospital? Do they live happily ever after? What happens about this event?

You get my point. My resolution in Unbreakable Hostage is a couple of chapters plus the epilogue. Is it slow and boring? No. I'll tell you why. Because every loose end, every character, every detail is tended to in my resolution. My reader does not wonder about any of the characters. They know what happens to them all. Now, just like life, you could really carry the story on from where I end it, but the story ends where it needs to end. It does not need to go on any further. I don't want to bore my readers, and I certainly don't want to make this as long as War and Peace. Nobody wants to read a book like that.

So, be detailed in your resolution. Don't leave your readers hanging, but be sure that you get to the point. We (the readers) are catching our breath after the climax, but we really don't want to be bored to tears afterwords, k?

So build, build, build your story to an incredible height, and then tie everything up and end it nice and neatly.


Chelle Cordero said...

you made a very good point about how everything should be leading to that conflict - building up to it.

Anonymous said...

Yes,great points all around. It stinks having to delete a paragraph, let alone a chapter that ultimately does not lead toward the climax. I guess that's what little files called "Edited Blurbs" are for... perhaps they can be employed down the road somewhere in another novel.