Write a Better Plot, Step 7: The Climax

I’m picking up where I left off the last time with this series of blog posts. I’ve been featuring Martha Alderson’s video series on plotting a novel, memoir or screenplay. Of course, for KidLitWriters, I’ll be focusing on novels, particularly novels for middle-grade and young adult readers.

Today’s video shows us how to plot the climax of a story:

One of the most important ideas to remember from this video is this quote:

Beginnings hook readers, but the endings are what create fans.

The endings are what leave us with a yearning that a book would never end. It’s what makes us look forward to the next book from the same author. As a writer, the way we write endings is often what makes a series and a productive writing career.

In How to Train Your Dragon, the climax is Hiccup’s realization that he and Toothless must face the giant dragon on their own. Everything they’ve been doing so far leads up to this inevitable confrontation. In the The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, the climax comes when Katniss and Peeta are the only tributes left. They have come to the point where, according to the rules, only one of them can be left alive.

The questions Martha poses are simple: “What could that point be for your character? What could be the end of the story? What does your character realize at the end?”

But these are the questions that we must be able to answer at one point or another in the writing of our projects. There must be a climax, a high point, where our character realizes something about himself or the world around him. What event marks that point in your story?


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