Friday, February 25, 2011

Climaxes—a love/hate relationship.

Posted by: Julia Knight

No, not that sort. The climax of the book. I love them when I read them, I love trying to come up with a satisfying climax to what I’m writing but…but I hate them too. Because the climax is, no matter how good the rest of the book, the part that the reader will take away from it, and if I don’t get it right, then the whole book isn’t right.

This is probably made worse by the fact that I have only the very vaguest idea of what the ending will be at any given time up till I write it. I’ll usually have a line of dialogue to aim towards, or maybe the notion that ‘stuff blows up’ or ‘this character will probably die’. That’s about it. And then, when I write the climax, I sit and look at it and think ‘Ack! Too obvious! I have ‘Luke, I am your father’ mixed with ‘Soylent Green is people!’ maybe with added ‘Shades of the Berlin wall coming down.’ only, er, different.’

At which point I generally bang my head on my desk till I get a better idea, such as Luke shooting his dad.... Because it’s very hard to get everything together into one or two scenes that tie up enough, but not to much, and do it in such a way the reader will (hopefully) think both ‘I should have seen that coming, but it was still a surprise’ and ‘That is the best ending for this story. *sigh*’. An ending that really satisfies.

Of course, just to complicate everything, what each person considers satisfying differs. So, to you, dear readers, my questions are this: What should an ending have to make you close the book with a satisfied sigh? On the other hand, what sort of ending makes you want to reach through the book and give the author a good shake?


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. For me, the ending doesn't have to be "happy" necessarily, it just has to fit with the story, and I want that story to have a big twist that seems impossible to resolve at the end, but gets resolved--but NOT without the characters working for it.

    (sorry, screwed up that prev. post :)

  3. Yeah, I gotta say I love a happy ending. I wanted my money back after the second Pirates of the Caribbean.

  4. I like a happy ending, the bigger the conflict the bigger the payoff. I hate cliffhanger endings, especially unexpected cliffhanger endings.

  5. I like a happy-ish ending in a series and a happy ending for most characters in a stand-alone or final book.

    As for the climax though, I want to feel that moment of hopelessness where it seems like everything the good guys have worked towards is going to fail.


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