Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Climax, Part Deux ...

I'm still in revisions ... since I started revising this book, I rewrote the whole thing once, but realized I wasn't satisfied. The rewrite didn't work. So I went back to page one and started over again, and now I'm just handling the denouement.

This morning, I wrote the emotional climax. It took me several days to work myself up to this scene. It takes place in a gnarled forest, with trees polished like old bones by the wind, after a moment of fear, pain and panic. The emotional climax is the moment when my hero begins to learn what will come next for him. I think of it as the moment when he begins to see the kind of person he will actually become ... and it's not easy for him. He doesn't really like the thought of it at first, because he's destined to be a good person, and that's a hard thing to be.

My point, though, is that this emotional climax really comes several pages AFTER my plot climax. The plot climax is all action, with flames and hot air balloons and a pitched battle and a demonic blender and a falling piano. This was a fun scene to write, but then a few pages later, there is this moment in the woods.

Every book needs these two: the action climax, and the emotional climax. Sometimes they occur together, but not always. Right? So what do you think? How do you handle the emotional climax in your story?


Natasha Fondren said...

Huh, I know it's silly, but I've never considered having the two happen separately. It's amazing the things that don't occur to one, LOL.

Good luck, Jon!

Erica Orloff said...

Totally have the separate nearly all the time. In Freudian Slip, there are two emotional climaxes--one for Julian and one for Kate. But the sort of madcap scene in the bridal shop with Gussie is the slimax in a sense, down the hill to the end.

In Magickeepers, I tend to think it's the moment the character DECIDES internally to accept the emotional responsibility to his clan. But the actual climax is all action and danger.


Melanie Avila said...

Great post. I've been feeling like this for about a week now since the BIG drama happens right away in this MS.

In the book I'm querying, my emotional climax happens shortly after the physical climax. There's a gun battle in desert, but it doesn't "hit" the MC until afterwards.

I think it makes sense that they would be separate, especially if it IS a big dramatic climax -- people don't usually have time to reflect on what's happening until after the dust has settled.

LurkerMonkey said...


Until this revision, I never really thought about it myself.

LurkerMonkey said...


I wondered if it's often different in kid's books. With Murph, I'd say his emotional climax occurs after the action, partly as a result of all that action. It's interesting, though, because I almost like this scene more than the burning of St. Victus.

LurkerMonkey said...


That's kind of the same thing for me ... it's the echoes of action that cause growth.