The climax scene of any novel is the big gift your reader has been holding on to receive, reading and flipping page after page to arrive at this critical place. By the time a reader reaches the story climax, she has built up a lot of expectations in response to the promises laid out by the author.
Writing Tip for Today: What are some ways to make sure your novel’s climax scene is worthy of the story?
- Make it BIG. The climax scene has to be demonstrative of the highest stakes of the entire story. It’s what everything else points to. Give your climax more oomph by increasing the tension in a logical and steady way up to the climax scene. If the biggest bang occurs too soon in a novel, it will feel pointless to read on. There should be a definable moment when the Main Character must ACT in order to win or lose the story goal. Some writers ask if there can be two climaxes. I think it sort of negates the whole idea, although there may be a penultimate scene that occurs to put the character in place for the big scene.
- Pace it Right. Many first drafts contain climax scenes which are rushed or incomplete. If the character merely runs on stage and accomplishes the goal, it probably wasn’t a very worthy goal or high enough stakes. You will likely need to revise several times (or as many times as it takes to get it right) in order to show your character dealing with the scene in a logical and believable way. For instance, check your dialogue for speeches. Who argues that way? When people argue or fight, they interrupt each other, speak in short sentences, use a lot of body language. Work on the pace until it is believable.
- Work Your Character. A solid novel promise requires the character to solve the major problems. Avoid the coincidence. No deus ex machina scenes, where the cavalry rides in to save the day. Readers want the character they’ve invested in to follow through and be willing to act and solve the novel’s problems.
What’s Your Take? Do you enjoy or dread writing the climax scene in your novel? I’d love to hear from you!