Monday, February 18, 2013

The Final Showdown

Imagine The Gunfight at the OK Corral without the gunfight at the OK Corral...

 We all know the scene. We've seen it a hundred times on the screen or inside our heads when reading a book:

The Final Showdown

The final showdown is that moment in the story when the main character faces his or her antagonist. That antagonist can be the most evil wizard ever, cancer, a tornado, a family member, or even themselves.

But at some point in the story, the two must face off or the reader/viewer will be very disappointed.

The Climax

Imagine the Harry Potter series ending without Harry and Voldemort facing off. From book one, the reader is told that the two must meet. So, if they never did, the story would have fallen flat.

In the movie, Twister, the main character played by Helen Hunt is tormented by the thought of a tornado wiping out a town. Why? She lost her family to a tornado. So she spends the entire movie hunting down that elusive F5 tornado. At the end of the movie, if she never faced one, the viewers would have been very disappointed.

In my book series, The Dragon Forest, we have the antagonist Lord Bedlam causing trouble for King Alexander. Prince Peter is told he must be the one to save the kingdom. This means that at some point in the trilogy, Peter must face Lord Bedlam in a final showdown.

Why is the Climax so important in a story?

This final showdown is what life is all about. In reality, we all must have a showdown at some point. Whether we face a crooked boss, a life threatening disease, or a storm system....we all face something in our lives that makes us grow. We each face something that makes us change.

That's Life!

One of my students asked, "Why does the Crisis Point and Climax always have to be so dramatic? Why does someone have to die or get injured or something like that?"

Good question!

I explained to her that not all Crisis Points or Climaxes have to be so dramatic. Then I went on to remind them of the movie Castaway with Tom Hanks.

What was the Crisis Point in that story?  No one was killed. No one was dismembered.

The Crisis Point for our character was the loss of his friend: Wilson, the volleyball.

No big deal for the viewer, however, that loss was devastating to the character. Wilson had been his friend for 4 years on that island! To lose him in the ocean caused Chuck to give up on life.

The Climax of Castaway didn't involved Chuck fighting anyone, but he did have to face off with his conflict:

His former life.

So, we see Chuck having to say goodbye to his long lost love, Kelly. Her memory was what helped him stay alive on that island, but he realized he was no longer the same person and neither was she.

See? Climaxes don't have to be that BIG final battle scene between good and evil.

But there must be a Climax to the story where the character finally faces that conflict:

Character vs. character
Character vs. nature
Character vs. supernatural
Character vs. self
Character vs. destiny
Character vs. machine/technology
Character vs. society

Remember, to lose a volleyball was no big deal to the viewer, but it was detrimental to the main character. Your Crisis and Climax must be detrimental to your character.  

That's life, after all.

What conflict will your character deal with in your story?

Sometimes a story has two forms of conflict like in Twister. The main character is facing nature, plus herself.

Knowing the conflict(s) in your story will help you write that Climax scene of your story. You should be able to tell someone what that scene will look like even before you write it. That's how important it is to your story.

That Climactic scene is what makes a reader want to read your book!

So, have fun with it. Decide who will win and who will lose. It's your be creative!

Most importantly, just write!

Your turn: What is the conflict of your current work in progress? How did you come up with that storyline?


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