Do you know what the most important point in a book is? Spoiler: It’s the climax. Do you know the most important thing to be able to write as an author? Double spoiler: Also the climax. Do you know what I absolutely drop the ball at every time? Triple-dog spoiler: The Climax.
Honestly, this has been an issue with me since the dawn of time. And by ‘the dawn of time,’ I mean second grade, when I made my first real attempt at writing a book. To be fair, that story actually won me the Young Author’s Award for my school and got me to the state competition, but still. The climax was not anything to applaud. Since then, it’s something I’ve seriously struggled with.
I remember this time in high school, my freshman year, I think, when I submitted a short story for another writing contest. The story was called “Band Spies and Choir Ninjas,” and the plot was about what you’d expect. People in band were spies, people in choir were ninjas, anybody who was in both were double agents, and both groups were in a war similar to the feud between the Montagues and Capulets in “Romeo and Juliet” in that nobody really knew what they were fighting about. At the end, it turned out that it was all over some embarrassing pictures on a flash drive that the choir director had of the band director. This wasn’t really a choice on my part to be anticlimactic. Rather, it was the result of me getting to the point of the climax and realizing I didn’t have anything planned. Yeah. Not great storytelling. And I’ll never forget the note I got from one of the judges about the line “All of this for some stupid flash dive?” The judge wrote, “Yeah, kind of disappointing for the reader, too.” Wow. Thanks a lot, Madam Judge.
Now I’m running into the same problem with this first book in The Caspian Chronicles. I’ve written this climax about three or four times now, and while each time it gets significantly better–and I mean that sincerely, it really does get significantly better each time–it’s still not there yet. I mean, at least now I understand what makes a good climax, and I refuse to put this book out there until it meets the standards I’ve set for myself, but, like… Why is this so hard??? What is it about a climax that makes it so freaking difficult to get from your head and onto the page? And why does it take me ten tries to do what it probably only takes some people one or two tries to do?
I really don’t want this post to scare people away from buying my book when the time comes, because, like I said, it’s not going to be released until it’s damn near perfect. By the time it comes out, you’d best believe it’ll have the best climax that’s ever been written (okay, maybe that’s stretching it, but it will be very good, at least). I’m just frustrated with how hard it is to get there.
But, then again, I’m sure every author has their own Achilles Heel. So tell me, what’s yours? Is it the climax, like me? Or is it something else? Does your dialogue never sound natural? Do your settings fall flat? Are your characters tropes upon tropes? Let me know in the comments so that I don’t have to wallow in self pity all by myself!