Question: I have been working on a novel for nearly two years. I can never seem to get it quite right. My latest version I feel very hopeful and confident about, thanks to your help in helping me to make it more attractive and emotionally powerful. However, I've come to the climax, where the character has to decide between going for their goal or saving an organization they are a part of. Ultimately they choose the goal, which I feel is the climax, but the consequence of the neglecting their organization I feel is like another climax rather than a "falling action". A double climax I think would be too much emotion in one story, but I'm not sure how to make the second "climax" less than what it is to make it seem like mere falling action without making a cliffhanger. What is your idea to avoid this?
Btw, amazing advice. Thank you very much for taking the time to put it all together on here.Answer:
Thanks for the kind comments. I'm glad you've found this site helpful.
I don't know if this applies to your story (not having the manuscript in front of me), but the climax in some stories is somewhat stretched out.
Instead of a tense situation in which the protagonist makes his choice and that choice instantly saves the day (or not), the climax is broken up into a sequence. First we get the tense situation or the black moment where everything seems impossible and the hero realizes that his approach won't work, so he runs away. Then he reflects his actions or something forces him to realize what will happen if he doesn't rise to the occasion (the consequence). This makes him finally decide to dispense with whatever has held him back and to try a different approach. After this, we have a scene where he returns and uses his new approach to win the day.
In effect, this method makes the main character's 3rd signpost, his personal climax, distinct from the overall story's 3rd signpost, the traditional climax (which would be the black moment).
The scene where the hero starts to win is part of the falling action or unraveling, but don't let the name fool you. It was called "falling action" because in tragedies that's where the hero starts losing, falling down the slope of success. In a story where the hero wins, the opposite is true. This is the moment when the hero starts winning, so the emotional tone is more exciting and uplifting. It's where the reader (or, in films, a minor character) is inclined to raise a fist and shout, "Yes!"