Wednesday, April 20, 2011

That Other Climax

Oh, you all have such dirty minds. Really.

Today we're going to discuss literary climaxes. But not the one everyone focuses on. Yes, we all know there is a giant climax at the end of the story, the thing that everyone is waiting for since page one, but there is another climax that I think is just as important.

I'm talking about the mid-story climax. Because, you see, unlike most of their ending counterparts, things have to fail in the mid-story climax, and that's so much more interesting to write. And to read, for that matter.

When characters are going through things, yes we want them to win. We want the good guys to prevail and the bad guys to suffer. Well, usually. But that can't happen at a mid-story climax, or else the story would be boring. It would be too easy. A writer needs to be tough on their characters. (Is there any parent in history that isn't tougher on their children than writers? Let me know if you can think of anyone.) Being tough creates conflict, which in turn keeps readers interested.

See, this particular part has to fail. When the protagonists fail, they have to start building up again, which means they have even farther to go before they can reach their goal. And as they say, it's darkest before the dawn. Take The Fellowship of the Ring here (movie version, because it's most recent in my brain - and yes, I'm a geek). The mid-story climax comes while the group is in the mines and ends with the fall of Gandolf. The fellowship has only scraped by, and for them, it feels almost hopeless to continue. Can you tell me you weren't holding your breath to find out what happens next? I was.

I'm focusing on this because I am, right at this moment, writing my mid-story climax. It's exciting to write and is something that I haven't really focused on in other manuscripts. But not only is it keeping me focused, it's creating all sorts of conflict and spurring a romantic attraction. How can that not be a good thing?

Do you writers think about a mid-story climax when you're writing? Do you think it's a good idea? Do you think it's a waste of time? I'd love to know.

Also, I'm thinking of changing my blog address. Tell me, if I were to do something like that, would you be affected? Would you care? Would you update links (if you had any, but doubtful) if I did? Please let me know.

Have a nice day, and keep reading. Always.