You’ve probably heard me say “writing is like cooking, best when all the ingredients come together…”
Very true. And yet, within the multitude of story “ingredients” there are a few secret spices that carry a bit extra flavor than the others.
The story climax is one such ingredient.
Often novice writers will have a weak climax, or as in the case with genre fiction comics, be lacking a distinct climax all together.
So here’s a test you can do in the privacy of your own writing studio, or in front of a friend if you’re so bold and inclined:
Take your climax scene and pitch it.
Pretend you just walked into an elevator with Dan DiDio or C.B. Cebulski… Don’t add anything to your climax scene, don’t slip in any exposition, setup or backstory, just open on the scene and GO!
Does it impress? Does it elicit open mouths and wide eyes? Or are Dan and C.B. checking their phones?
Let’s have some fun and throw out a couple examples. (Off the top of my head, so please excuse any inaccuracies.)
“Indy and Marion are tied to a stake as the Nazis open the lost Ark of the Covenant. Graceful, benevolent spirits fly out of the Ark and drift among the Nazi soldier filling them with pride and awe—pride of their victory in finally securing the ark and pride of unlocking a supernatural secret of humanity. Then suddenly the spirits turn into horrible wraiths and melt everyone’s faces off! Indy and Marion struggle to keep their eyes shut against a supernatural tempest. In the end they are the only survivors, spared by their respect of the spirits and perhaps by their love for each other.”
Or in a non action/adventure setting, how about this one:
“The killer leads the detectives to the supposed location of his last victim, where instead of a body, there’s only a box. Detective Somerset looks in the box and is emotionally taken back. He desperately tries to keep detective Mills away from the box. The two struggle, Mills breaks down realizing something is horribly wrong. Refusing to heed his partner’s advice, Mills looks inside the box and finds his wife’s severed head. He pulls his gun on the killer, overwhelmed with grief and feelings of vengeance. Knowing the killer wants to be shot, Mills is paralyzed. Finally, flooded by thoughts of his wife, he pulls the trigger and ends the killer’s life.”
Even if detective Mills hadn’t pulled the trigger and capped the climax off with violent action, it would have been a powerful, unforgettable mind-messing climax.
If your climax alone doesn’t make you (or your imaginary big 2 executives) want to sit down and read the rest of your book:
if you’re more lost than entertained,
if you feel more emotional about the mac and cheese you left out on the stove uncovered last night,
Lucy you got a lot of explainin’ to do! (And by explainin’ I mean rewriting.)
(As always, popular movie references used simply to tap into the wider public consciousness. Feel free to plug in your favorite comic and see if the climax alone holds up.) ▪
About the Author —
Nick Macari is a full-time freelance story consultant, developmental editor and writer, working primarily in the independent gaming and comic markets. His first published comic appeared on shelves via Diamond in the late 90’s. Today you can find his comic work on comixology, amazon and in select stores around the U.S. Visit NickMacari.com for social media contacts and news on his latest releases.