Lesson 1: Inciting Incident
In the first lesson, we talk about the three most important plot elements of best-selling stories, starting with the inciting incident.
Lesson 2: Dilemma
In our second lesson, we explore the dilemma, heart of your story and the engine of drama.
Lesson 3: Climax
In the third and final lesson, we explore the climax, the most exciting, thrilling part of a story.
We've come to the final and most exciting element of plot. The moment that your story has been building up to the big payoff and everything your reader has been waiting for: the climax.
The climax is the moment with the most drama, the most action, the most everything, but even more than that, the climax is the moment with the highest amount of contrast between values that have been building up in the story:
- life versus death
- love versus hate
- success versus failure
- maturity versus immaturity
- temptation versus moral failure
The climax is the moment of highest tension between those two value poles.
For example, in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's stone, the climax is the life and death showdown. Between Harry. And Voldemort and his minion professor Quirrel.
In Romeo and Juliet. It's the couples test of love as they ND end their lives in each other's arms.
In frozen it's on a sacrifice to save her sister.
In every romantic comedy ever. It's the moment when someone is dramatically running across the airport or across town or across something in a last ditch effort to prove their love.
The climax is impossible without the elements we talked about in the previous lessons. Without the inciting incident, to build the tension and begin the movement of the story, the climax would lack a payoff.
In the same way the climax is a direct result of the dilemma. It's the choice that the main character is faced with in the dilemma that's actually made in the climax and which results in the high action and drama. So the inciting incident and the dilemma build to the climax and the most exciting part of this story.
And one thing to mention is that as stories have evolved over thousands of years, patterns have formed and climaxes have tended to fall into these patterns. So here are eight climax types that are very common in a lot of stories and know that there are more than this, but these can give you some ideas for your story.
- The big battle. This is the final showdown between the forces of good and the forces of evil, the main character and their team faces off against their enemies. There are so many examples of this climax, including Lord of the rings and the count of Monte Cristo.
- The villain outwitted it's related to the big battle, but for high stories, like oceans a level. For high stories, like ocean's 11, the final fight is one of the mind in which the team of heroes outwits the villain and often the audience as well. Right.
- The cornered confession. In a mystery or crime plot the climax consists of the detectives cornering the villain. Into some kind of final confession, nearly every crime drama ever involves a confession like this.
- At the mercy of the monster. In a thriller or horror story. The climax is when the main character is captured by and at the mercy of the monster. And that monster could look like a twisted person with no morals or an actual other creature. But the hero has to somehow escape. And the hero has to try to somehow escape some crime, thrillers, and most horror stories include this type of situation. And in a crime thriller the villain also confesses while they hold the protagonist hostage.
- Proof of love. In a love story the proof of love comes when the main character realizes that despite everything they can't live without the other character, and they have to overcome every obstacle in order to tell them.
- The big tournament. In a performance story or a sports story. This is the big game at the end. In which the main character has to use all the skills and all the lessons that they gained throughout the story. To take on the opposing side. And one last tournament, Friday night lights and miracle are great examples of this.
- This changes everything. In a coming of age story, this is the big realization that the main character makes that changes everything. And every way that they're approaching what they're going through midnight in Paris and capturing the ride, both have this climax type.
- The final judgment. In a temptation story this is where the main character is judged either positively, if they didn't give into temptation or negatively, if they did, and they're forced to suffer their fate, usually this is paired with another climax, for example, frozen. Has this climax type mixed with the big battle.
But with all of these types, it's important to show the negative value as much as the positive value to show the very real chance of death or the real chance that the villain might get away or the real chance that the other character might not feel the same way in a love story. If you don't. Get a hint. That there's a good chance that there might be a negative outcome. It will make the positive outcome, much less enjoyable.
And at the same time, if you're writing a tragedy, you have to make it look like everything is going really well for the hero that they might actually pull this thing off only to end with things falling apart in the last moment, by showing the contrast, you build more drama into the story.
All right. That's the climax. And those are the three most important elements of plot. If you want to learn more about all of these, there's two things you can do.
First you can get my new book, The Write Structure, which is available on Amazon and other bookstores. It goes into depth on all of these ideas and more.
And second, you can stay tuned for a free live training where we'll be talking about all of these ideas, more about the structure of your stories and how to use these ideas. To write publishable best-selling stories of your own.
I hope to see you there soon.