How to Write an Effective Climax to Your Novel
Batten the hatches, saddle up the horse and get ready. It’s climax time! When your novel is about to reach its end, your protagonist will confront his or her biggest challenge. All the exciting plots and subplots will come full circle, and you will have to write an effective climax that consists of your most dramatic, most surprising moments. It should comprise moments where your main characters are experiencing their lowest lows and highest highs, making your readers cry, laugh, cheer, or preferably all of the above!
At the end of the day, your climax is a big deal. Therefore, planning it out as early as possible would be wise. It is of the utmost importance to give your novel’s climactic moment some extra thought. The buildup you put in matters a great deal here. No matter how well you’ve written your novel’s climax, its effectiveness depends on the buildup of your novel’s plot.
There’s also the matter of how you’ve set up your protagonist to face his or her biggest obstacle and whether you’ve given your readers enough reasons to care about what happens as your novel nears its end. With that in mind, here are a few ways to make your novel’s climax more engaging, effective, and exciting.
Compose The Ending First
When you’re writing a novel, the tension can often evaporate halfway through the story. So, it is an excellent idea to plan your novel’s climax early on to know where your protagonist is heading. Learning about his or her destination in advance will allow you to remain focused during the ‘middle muddle.’
While it might feel challenging to figure out your novel’s ending this early, remember the core idea of your novel. It probably has the ending hidden within it. For instance, if your core idea is something along the lines of will Captain Ahab catch Moby Dick? then your novel’s climax will be the moment when he harpoons the white whale and drowns to his death.
Take Advantage of A Prologue To Hint At Your Climax
Using a prologue is an excellent way to write an effective climax as it engages your reader with moments of dramatic action. Sometimes, a prologue can refer to a past event that has set your novel in motion (the catalyst). Sometimes, it can give the readers a peek into your novel’s climax.
Furthermore, a prologue offers your readers an intense dose of heart-pounding action or intrigue to ensure they remain interested in your novel until the end. That said, prologues are most effective for novels where the opening chapters take their time to introduce the protagonist, antagonist, and the plot. For example, the prologue in William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet gives us a sneak peek at what to expect.
‘Two households, both alike in dignity (In fair Verona, where we lay our scene),
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.’
Notice how the author tells us about a quarrel between two households in Verona, and how things are going to unfold in a new type of ‘mutiny,’ hinting at what to expect.
Utilize the Crucible
Let’s take the example of J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings to explain the crucible effect. In the trilogy, Frodo (the protagonist) is tasked to take the ring to Mordor. What if he had decided not to take it to Mordor? The author invests a great deal of time to explain that Frodo is the only one who can carry it. He also suggests what might happen if he fails to go to Mordor.
These events create the crucible effect for Frodo, making the readers feel that he has no other choice but to go to Mordor, no matter the cost.
Typically, the crucible effect is a situation that forces your novel’s protagonist towards the climax. It results from your novel’s character’s decisions and the battles he or she has to face. It is an excellent way to write an effective climax and inject some creativity into your novel.
Ensure Your Antagonist and Protagonist Are Evenly Matched
To understand this particular tip better, let’s examine how your readers will feel when the antagonist and protagonist aren’t evenly matched. For instance, after acquiring a high-tech weapon or special powers, your protagonist is now unbeatable. So now, during your novel’s climax, he or she is going into battle with the antagonist for the last time. But, of course, your protagonist is invincible now, and victory is a foregone conclusion. Therefore, ask yourself, will your readers be worried about the protagonist? Probably, not.
To keep your readers interested and raise tension during the climax, you need to ensure that your antagonist’s skills and resources are on par with your protagonist. Both should be evenly matched as it keeps your readers at the edge of their seats, not knowing what will happen during the climactic moment.
Proceed With Caution
Risk comes with great rewards! However, if you can’t nail down your climax, then you’re just forcing your novel down your readers’ throats. Not to mention, not every novel is meant to have a climactic moment in the end. In this case, a surprising moment might feel tacked on if poorly written. So, now that you know how to write an effective climax, it’s time to start crafting your own unique one. However, if you need help, visit our website to learn more about our professional book editing services and more.