Week 10, Step 10: “The Climax and the Resolution”

So…. Now we get to the end of your first draft. This is probably the funnest and most satisfying part of your whole journey- the climax, and the resolution.

The climax is the ultimate goal; the clash between good and evil, the heart-wrenching anguish of your characters, the fear of not knowing who will win and what the outcome will be. You as a writer get to decide that. But there are a few things that your climax needs to have to make it gripping.

First, it needs to be big. It needs to be suspenseful, and by that I mean on-the-edge-of-your-seat-can’t-put-the-book-down suspenseful! You need mystery and adventure and excitement. You might not be writing a fantasy where there can be a epic battle sequence or a thrilling end to a mystery. But a battle within your character’s soul or a crucial argument between friends could provide exactly what you need.

Second, something has to change. In your battle, either good or evil needs to triumph. You can’t have it end the same way as all the other skirmishes have been ending. Even if evil still wins, somehow your main character has to change and grow through the whole learning process. If it’s a battle that’s in your character’s heart and mind, then a decision to change has to be made. But don’t make it easy. Make it difficult. Make it hard for them to push their own will aside and pick up the new thing that they’ve been too scared to start.

Third, try not to make the climax predictable. For example, for most sci-fi or fantasy stories everything leads up to a giant battle at the end, right? Ok. That’s fine. But do it when no one expects it. The possibilities here are endless! You could have an ambush occur that starts the battle when the good guys weren’t expecting it. You could have one of the main characters or leaders get sick and die and another character has to unexpectedly take the lead and change direction for the attack. Maybe your characters could have everything planned out, and then find a spy in the camp who already told the bad guys everything. Perhaps the bad guys have a new secret weapon that they unleash on the battle field and no one knows how to stop it. And you could always throw in a close friend dying in someone’s arms either right before a battle or in the thick of everything. I would love to see a book that ends with the main character dying as he or she sees that the victory has been won and they had accomplished their Master’s business. Make it as unpredictable as possible.

For historical fiction or a modern story or everyday life, have some unexpected and unannounced event happen. It could be the death of a family member, a loss of a best friend, sudden financial issues or a sudden trip. Anything to bring about the ultimate decision faster than expected is a good thing and keeps your readers on their toes.

Now, for the resolution. The resolution is when everything winds down. The resolution can be a couple of chapters, just one chapter, a few paragraphs, or even just a few sentences! But there are a few things your resolution needs to have, too.

Of course your resolution needs to show what’s changed and what’s been resolved in the story. It needs to make it feel complete and tie up any lose ends. You also need to make sure that the main point of your story is re-emphasized and that in the end, God gets all the glory.

But….

If there’s a second book coming, you also need to add some mystery. For example, in my book a character runs off into the night hurt and bleeding, and I never tell you what happens to that particular character. You need to have links between your first, second, and third books and beyond. Don’t resolve everything if you have another book coming. Otherwise no one will actually want to read the next books! :-)

So there you have it. Those are really the only rules. So go have fun and be creative and be dramatic and mysterious. :-)

Suggested Homework:
Write the climax and resolution! Make sure there’s something completely unexpected in your story. And make sure the resolution and climax meet your goals for your story.