Three Things You Need in Your Climax

The climax.

That point which should be the tensest, most enthralling portion of the book.  Done well, a climax can be simply stupendous.  However, there are also few things in writing that are as bad as a climax done poorly. 3thingsclimaxpost

As one example, there was a series that I was reading a couple years ago that had a ton of promising potential.  It had great characters, gave an amazingly-executed theme, had a thrilling setting, and was explicitly Christian without falling into any of the traps that Christian fiction can have a tendency to fall into.  The first book was stellar and was my favorite novel that I read that year.

But then I came to the second book, which, while it maintained much of the momentum from the first book, failed to have a climax.  It merely set up the last book and thus lacked any real type of conclusion.

I still think the first book is excellent, and still want to finish the series sometime.  But I finished the second book two years ago.  And I haven’t brought myself to read the last book of the series since then.  Despite everything that the series had going for it, it had a distinct lack of a climax.  And that lack killed everything else going on in the series.

Obviously, this isn’t the type of reaction that you want to get from the readers of your book.  While on the outset, the climax may seem rather simple—it’s where everything gets resolved after all—it can often be trickier to execute than it seems on first glance.

“And given how devastating a poor climax can be to an otherwise good book, a lot rides on the success of a climax, so it’s a part of your story that needs to be planned very carefully.”  

There’s a lot that could be said about a novel’s climax—after all, it’s a big topic.  However, as I’ve been thinking of the climax, there are three basic things that every climax ought to have.  Or, rather, three balances.  Let’s look at each of them in turn. [Read more…]

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Josiah DeGraaf is a high school English teacher and literature nerd who fell in love with stories when he was young and hasn’t fallen out of love ever since.
He writes because he’s fascinated by human motivations. What causes otherwise-good people to make really terrible decisions in their lives? Why do some people have the strength to withstand temptation when others don’t? How do people respond to periods of intense suffering? What does it mean to be a hero?
These questions drive him as a reader, and they drive him as a writer as well as he takes normal people, puts them in crazy situations (did he mention he writes fantasy?), and then forces them to make difficult choices with their lives.
Someday, Josiah hopes to write fantasy novels with worlds as imaginative as Brandon Sanderson’s, characters as complex as Orson Scott Card’s, character arcs as dynamic as Jane Austen’s, themes as deep as Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s, and stories as entertaining as Wayne Thomas Batson’s. In the meantime, you can find him writing articles here as he works toward achieving these goals.