RU Contributor Rayne Hall returns to discuss elements you should consider when penning your climax scene.
The main character has just overcome the trials of the Black Moment and the plot races to its conclusion. Now the MC has to face the greatest challenge – perhaps a confrontation with the antagonist – and the tension is so high that the reader perches on the edge of her seat, unable to tear herself away from the story’s action.
This is the big scene the reader has been waiting for, so make sure it meets her expectations – or better still, exceeds them.
Study the climax scenes of bestselling novels in your genre, and use them as inspiration for the structure, content and style of yours.
Here are some tips how to power up your climax scene to keep your reader enthralled.
- Give it time and space. Don’t rush the climax scene or skip over details. Develop it as a full scene, perhaps the longest scene in the book.
- Choose an unusual location, preferably one which is weird or dangerous – or both. How about a steep rock face in the mountains, a rope bridge across a ravine, the rooftop of a skyscraper, a derelict amusement park, a raft racing towards a cataract?
- What lessons has the MC learnt? During the course of the novel, he has grown, overcome bad habits, gained control over his weakness and reconsidered his values. The climax tests this. Has he truly left his old self behind, will he act according to his recently acquired insight, and will his new values stand firm in the face of the challenge?
- During the climax scene, the MC should come across as honourable, resourceful and brave.
- Arrange it so the protagonist (main character) and the antagonist (opponent, villain) face each other in a final showdown. If your first draft doesn’t have a protagonist/antagonist showdown at the climax, consider changing the plot to bring one about; readers will love you for it.
- Emphasise how much is at stake – the MC’s survival, her marriage, her happiness, the life of a child, the safety of her nation, the rescue of an endangered species or world peace. More than one thing can be at stake.
- Stake the odds against the main character – for example, the opponent is better prepared, and has superior equipment while the MC is unarmed, exhausted, unprepared, perhaps even injured.
- Throw some surprises into the plot: the arrival of a character who shouldn’t be there, support from an unlikely source, and unexpected obstacles which make the challenge for the MC even tougher.
- Include a moment of self-doubt when the MC wonders if she is doing the right thing or if she has the courage to follow through on her decision. She may even waver in her resolution and be tempted to return to her old ways. This ‘moment’ adds emotional depth and tension, but should probably be no longer than a paragraph.
- Does the MC have a special skill? Perhaps he’s a trained acrobat, a champion horse rider, an inscrutable poker player or an ace violinist? Is he good at charming people, or can he remember numbers like no one else? Whatever his special skill, let him use it in the climax scene.
- Aim to arouse intense emotions in the reader – not just one feeling, but several. The mix of emotions depends on the genre and your individual story. For example, terror is a perfect emotion for the climax of a horror novel, but it would not be desirable in a romance. Excitement is always a good choice when combined with others. Think about the emotions you want your readers to feel during this scene, and then set about arousing them.
- Make the climax scene as exciting as you can, perhaps even scary. How scary depends on the genre. In a thriller or horror novel, scare your readers to the utmost. But even in a romance, chicklit novel or comedy, it’s worth adding an element of danger to increase the excitement. Perhaps the characters meet in a terrifying location or engage in a perilous activity. If your MC has a phobia, force her to face her fear during the climax. If she has a phobia of heights, make her scale a cliff to rescue the child. If she’s terrified of being underground, locate the climax scene in a deep cave. The reader will feel her fear.
What will happen during your novel’s climax? If you want to share ideas, brainstorm possibilities or ask questions, leave a comment.
“Do you struggle with fight scenes? Has your editor told you the novel is brilliant – except for this part?
Learn step-by-step how to create fictional fights that leave the reader breathless with excitement.
The book gives you:
* A six-part structure to use as blueprint for your scene.
* Tricks how to combine fighting with dialogue
* Information about swords, daggers and other weapons, and suggestions how to write about them
It helps you to decide:
* What’s the best weapon for your character
* Where the scene takes place
* Which senses to use, how and when
* How much violence your fight needs
It shows you, step by step:
* How to write battles, riots, brawls and duels
* How our character can get out of trouble with self-defence techniques
* How to make the reader root for your hero
* Techniques for creating a sense of realism
* How to adapt your writing style to the fast pace of the action
* How to stir the readers’ emotion
Bio: Rayne Hall has published more than fifty books in several languages under several pen names with several publishers in several genres, mostly fantasy, horror and non-fiction. She is the author of the bestselling Writer’s Craft series (Writing Fight Scenes, Writing Scary Scenes, Writing About Villains, Writing About Magic and more) and editor of the Ten Tales short story anthologies.
She is a trained publishing manager, holds a masters degree in Creative Writing, and has worked in the publishing industry for over thirty years.
Having lived in Germany, China, Mongolia and Nepal, she has now settled in a small dilapidated town of former Victorian on the south coast of England where she enjoys reading, gardening and long walks along the seashore. She shares her home with a black cat adopted from the cat shelter. Sulu likes to lie on the desk and snuggle into Rayne’s arms when she’s writing.
- Writing Black Moment Scenes by Rayne Hall
- Writing Duel Scenes by Rayne Hall
- Writing Battle Scenes by Rayne Hall
- Writing Scary Scenes by Rayne Hall
- Writing Novel-Opening Scenes by Rayne Hall