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Tips for Writing Your Book's Climax
Episode 3711th October 2022 • Writing Break • America's Editor
00:00:00 00:14:31

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In this episode, we talk about writing your novel's climax, becoming an award-winning podcast three times over, and the latest publishing news.

Music licensed from Storyblocks:

“More Jam Please” by Raighes Factory

“Vibes Just Right” by Jon Presstone

“I Only Have a Little Bit Left to Give” by Jon Presstone

“Give Me Food” by Bobby Cole

“The Hero Within” by Bobby Cole

Transcripts

Rosemi Mederos:

If you have plot bunnies coming out of your plot holes, it’s time for a writing break.

Dee Alvis:

Writing Break is the winner of three silver w3 awards in the categories of General Series-Books, Best Use of Original Music/Sound Design, and Best Use of Writing.

Congratulations to America's Editor and the production team at Allon Media.

Rosemi Mederos:

Congratulations to you too, listeners. Winning silver in Sound Design shows that the team is doing a good job creating the right atmosphere for a writing break, and I am especially grateful for the wisdom of our technical advisor, Gus Aviles, in that regard. Winning silver in Writing shows that I know what I’m talking about when I’m bending your ear with these relentless writing tips, and I’m glad to have that w3 seal of approval. But winning silver in the topic of Books, that’s all you. You inspire me, you encourage me, and, most importantly, you ask the right questions.

Thank you for taking these breaks with me, and I hope you feel these wins are as much yours as they are mine. Now, let’s get to it.

The bookstore we are visiting today has a cafe serving delicious pastries, so let’s head there first for refreshments and to discuss some publishing news.

Welcome to Massolit Books & Cafe in Budapest, Hungary. Located on a one-lane road in the Jewish Quarter of Budapest, this cozy yet vibrant bookstore has a turquoise storefront and a Bohemian feel inside. The brown bookcases are backed up against off-white walls, and there are tables and chairs throughout the store, yes, even in front of the bookcases. The lighting is not too bright, giving the space a relaxed feel. There is a back room and outdoor space for events, and even some stools out front that encourage loitering.

If you remember, in The Master and Margarita, Massolit is the place where writers hang out. And that’s what we will be doing today. Let’s get a drink, maybe a pastry, and find a corner table where we can toast to our three silver awards and discuss the latest publishing news.

isher Wiley removed more than:

Random House is working on a collection of Little Golden Books to commemorate Disney’s 100th anniversary next year. Believe it or not, my capacity for nostalgia is miniscule, but Little Golden Books will forever have me in their iconic clutches yearning for afternoons when I would run my little fingers along their golden spines while walking home from the library.

However, the real news here is that next year, Disney turns 100, and they are planning a yearlong celebration. Hide your wallets, friends, and avert your eyes.

Content creators on BookTok are getting a first-hand look at the problems in publishing. Last month, Penguin Random House began a collaboration with TikTok that allows users to link books directly in the app. Sounds great, but you can only link to books published by Penguin Random House.

Many people in the BookTok community feel underrepresented by these books. Furthermore, there is not a lot of money in BookTok, and BookTok creators are growing resentful of the fact that publishing behemoths are getting richer off of BookTok content. Some BookTok creators are seeking financial compensation from book publishers themselves.

The atmosphere is growing oppressive and discouraging and leading to burnout. That’s publishing in a nutshell, isn’t it, writers?

Links to these articles can be found in the show notes of this episode and on writingbreak.com. Also in the show notes are: a link to the National Book Award finalists; a link to Publishers Weekly Holiday Gift Guide; and an article about seven authors who made their YA debut after the age of 50.

Now, let’s scoot our chairs a little bit closer to do some overthinking about publishing’s so-called Super Thursday.

Super Thursday:

What does that mean for avid readers like us? Not much. We’re always on the lookout for something new to read, whether it’s a 300-year-old tome or a 3-month-old paperback.

What does that mean for a writer like yourself? It means an opportunity to scope out the competition and see where publishers are placing their bets.

Now, let’s take a stroll around the shop and check out an independent author.

cial media following. Back in:

“The cookbook is organized with one recipe per page and each recipe is preceded by a short colorful remembrance or historical fact. It has a detailed description of ingredients used in the recipes and an Alphabetical and Category Recipe Index with English and Hungarian names.”

This cookbook is like having a bound collection of a grandmother’s recipe cards. It contains straightforward instructions and no photographs. It is absolutely irresistible, and yes, I own a copy. I splurged for the spiral-bound version because it lays flat, which is helpful when cooking.

Meyers still makes many of her recipes available for free online. Links to the cookbook and the online recipes can be found in the show notes of this episode and on writing break.com.

Now, let’s sit on the wooden bench at the front of the bookstore to watch people walk by while we review today’s writing tips.

We are finally at the Climax of your story. Like I said at the end of last week’s episode, the Climax begins the winning streak. Once you head into victory, do not give the protagonist any more major failures. That does not mean victory is going to be easy.

Some beloved characters might die in an epic battle, and a much-cherished sword might be lost over a cliff. The protagonist is still moving forward with a determined mind and a strong heart.

The protagonist is active throughout the climax. Do not allow the allies to solve the protagonist’s problem. They can assist, sure, and maybe even in critical ways, but the protagonist has to have contributed to his or her or their own victory. Do not let the protagonist just get lucky in the end. Show that the protagonist earned the win; your readers have earned that much from you.

The tricky thing is keeping the protagonist sympathetic. Too much boasting or whining, too much enjoyment of violence or celebration of a victory might kill your audience’s love for the protagonist.

Do not forget that you are also bringing antagonists through to their proper resolutions. Antagonists are defeated by their own flaws. The antagonists may be rehabilitated after their defeat, but that’s optional. If you have more than one antagonist, you might choose to reform some but not all.

The antagonist's defeat should be consistent with the weight of the story. For example, if you are writing a romance, the antagonist is reformed or perhaps removed from the story in a mild but permanent way. It does not have to be a dramatic scene. A story with a third-person narrative could just let the reader know that the antagonist has changed. Or you could let the reader know in a subtle way. Whatever works best for your story and your writing style.

Try to avoid making it cheesy, but that’s a personal request. Some audience members love a cheesy antagonist reformation. Do you remember that scene at the end of Dirty Dancing when Jake Houseman tells Johnny Castle, “I know you weren't the one who got Penny in trouble. When I'm wrong, I say I'm wrong.”

Ugh. But it didn’t quite kill the movie, did it?

You might also have the protagonist help the antagonist reform in the end. But reformation is optional. What is not optional is the antagonist’s defeat so that they are no longer in a position to cause chaos in the protagonist’s life. That is a must.

Give the reader time to enjoy that win and relax into the idea that the character who has been wreaking havoc throughout the book is finally neutralized. If you are writing a series, this might be a momentary retreat rather than a final defeat.

It is time to plan out the Climax.

You know what to do by now, right? Write a single sentence that describes the Climax, then make a list of the scenes needed to get through the writing of the Climax, writing just enough words to remember what each scene is about.

Maybe it’s because of the word “climax”, but some authors do not seem to understand that it is okay to have a long Climax. Please don’t be one of those authors who wraps everything up in the last few pages. Lighten the protagonist’s burdens throughout the Climax.

Next week, we end with, well, the Ending. Until then, thanks for listening, and remember, you deserved this break.

If you would like us to visit your favorite independent bookstore, feature your favorite independent author (even if it’s you), or discuss something you’re overthinking about, please email me at podcast@writingbreak.com.

Thank you for making space in your mind for The Muse today.

Writing Break is hosted by America’s Editor and produced by Allon Media with technical direction by Gus Aviles. Visit us at writingbreak.com or contact us at podcast@writingbreak.com.

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