Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Writing the Climax

Lately in school, we’re having to study maaaaany texts. Some, are awesome. Others…well…I can’t say that I am a huge fan. However, something seems to run in common with these texts: They lack a decent climax.

What is a climax exactly? Well, according to a quick internet search, it is: “The most intense, exciting, or important point of something; the culmination.”

K.M.Weiland said in one of her articles, that, “it’s the moment when the two speeding trains finally collide into a single unforgettable scene.”

Both seem to carry the same message. (Unusual for that to happen to be honest.) That probably means we should be paying attention to it. We clearly are needing to be including a climax that somewhat follows this concept. But how? What is it in a climax that makes it so good?

Now, the books we’ve studied at school do still have value for what they appear to have been designed for. They were more written as ‘art’ in which authors specifically break rules in order to make the reader question the purpose of a novel.

As a Christian writer, I feel that the purpose of my writing is to bring glory to God through the words He gives us, and to convey messages and themes in a way that makes it more relatable to the reader than simply stating them. Therefore, I do not go along with the beliefs of authors who chose to write purely to break expectations, but I am not saying that they aren’t valuable works in their own rights.

But how can one write a good climax? What is it that sets an amazing one aside from one that’s just, ‘meh’? Hopefully, I’ll be able to cover that in this post with two main points.

1. Internal Is Important

A lot of people assume that the climax is just when the plot reaches its peak. The point when the hero and the villain face each other on the rooftop of the tallest building in a city as the war goes on down below them—probably with the hero’s side losing.

But there is more.

This should be the point in which the hero has to officially take on their new way of living. This is where they have to have changed on the inside in order to make a difference and win the battle at its climax. They need to be at the height of their emotions and internal conflict at this point. Most of what makes a climax really intense is that the character is seriously undergoing this crazy change inside of them, and they are having to fight within themselves in order to win the fight externally.

A lot of writers—particularly newer ones—struggle with this. They get so caught up in the moment that they skip the internal entirely…possibly for the entire book. Now, this tends to mean that the battle wasn’t actually as epic as it should have been.

“We're our own worst enemy. You doubt yourself more than anybody else ever will. If you can get past that, you can be successful.” ~ Michael Strahan

This is fundamentally why books where the character has to overcome that internal struggle are so powerful. If you can convince yourself to go against everything you’ve always believed because you’ve finally come to terms through a lot of pain that the other way is right, you will really struggle if at the matter it matters most, you get given an option to go back to how you were before.

Let’s imagine a girl called Katie now. Katie has always run away from her problems because she didn’t want to get involved. She’s never been caught, but once she ran away and her friend was. She felt bad, and since has been stewing over her decision.

After a lot of thinking, she decided that she was going to go and face the villain and get her friend back. So she left.

Upon arriving, the villain was standing there, in front of her friend. Katie could see how dangerous this was. She was terrified. The villain then gives her the choice: Stay and die, or run away and be safe. Katie stands there for a few agonizing minutes, thinking. Her friend meets her eyes. Katie looks toward the escape. It would be so easy for her to back down.

Resolve sets in her and she chooses to stay.

Now, to be perfectly honest, those are the moments that seem to be the most powerful in books. When the character could easily give up, but they overcome that fear. Even if Katie did die at that point, it still feels right. She changed. The climax occured, and she chose the right path. In a way, that is both the climax and the resolution.

So in short, do not skip the internal.

2. Real Readers Read Realistic Writing

Explosions. Massive magic battles. The duel to the death on a tightrope. Flames cover the entire world. He drops to his knee and proposes in spite of the tragedy they’ve just been through. The court case where all that can be heard after the main character finished their speech is the soft breathing and the stilled silence of shock.

Pure epicness. And it belongs in the climax. They are all different forms of epicness, and all belong in different genres. But you want it to be there. After all, it is meant to be the intense part, ‘where the two speeding trains finally collide.’ You don’t want another part to overshadow it. It has to stand out as the most major part of the story.

However, you don’t want it to go too far.

C’mon Jess. How could you make epicness go too far? Isn’t epicness meant to be the epitome of grandness? You can’t really go too far—or too wrong—surely?

Trust me. You can.

Simple way to tell: If the climax is unrealistic, it has gone too far. Has the last living dragon in the world swooped down out of nowhere and decimated the entire enemy lines while the hero cheers and uses the chaos to defeat the villain? Not likely to happen.

What about the hero managing to shoot down the alien ship just as it was descending…blindfolded, in the middle of a chaotic battlefield, with only one point being likely to knock the ship out of the sky? Nuh uh. Still not happening.

Did the car manage to jump the span of a kilometer, only just scraping through at the last minute despite the jump being virtually impossible? The readers are going to sit back and sigh.

No one likes it when a book does this. You can see how epic it is going to be, and something huge happens! But then you sit back and frown at it because you know it can’t have happened.

This makes it look like that writer was being lazy. Don’t know how they can win? Let’s make this magical explosion work really well and be so huge that it wipes them out.

Really, it is heaps more interesting if the hero can win in a realistic way that is still epic. Think about you climax and make sure that it is realistic according to the laws of your book. If it is, go ahead!

There you go. Those are the two main things I think need to be kept in mind when writing a climax. If you use both of these points, it should seriously help strengthen your climax and make it more interesting, as well as meaningful.

Climaxes are one of the most memorable parts of any book, so you want to make sure that your readers are satisfied with yours. If they aren’t, chances are, they won’t like the book. So be sure to put effort into that climax, and don’t let it get lost in the rest of your novel!

What do you think are the most important parts of a climax? What are some of your favorites?

Saturday, 11 August 2018

Finding the Time to Write

Life is busy. Crazily so. And us writers tend to want to find time to write, but never manage to because time is just so hard to find. If you attend school, your teachers are giving you tons of work, your friends are giving you tons of drama, and location is giving you tons of travelling. If you're an adult and are out of school, then you've got work, friends, family, and scary adult stuff that's drinking up your time like that thirsty writing dragon that comes along and slurps your chai when you're not looking.

So how can you find enough time to write?

It's definitely something that I've been struggling with over the past year. Teachers are loading me up with school work, friends are throwing drama at me, and life in general seems to have very little concept of the fact that it takes time to write words. Don't get me wrong, I love school, friends, family and life in general, it just does make it quite challenging to manage to write among all of that. So I figured I'd give you a few ideas and tips that have been helping me out lately.

1. You can write small amounts.

This is one of the things that took me a while to work out. I'm used to being able to sit down and churn out over 1000 words in a day, but when you need to churn out two essays in a day as well, it just can't happen.

As it is, I find that it is helpful to remember that even if you just write a few hundred words in ten or so minutes, that is still writing, and it is still getting you somewhere. If you have a teacher who is late for class, you can just write a few more lines and enjoy that bit of freedom to write.

Sure, it doesn't produce much when you do this, but it helps you feel more like you're getting a chance to write.

2. Make the things stopping you from writing, start you writing.

I managed to put my novel that I wrote in July under the banner of my Extension English project that was taking up tons of precious time. I've also written two short stories for other English things, given my friend a novel for her birthday, given another friend a collection of poetry, worked out the statistical variety in newspaper articles for Maths, interviewed Jackie French (an Aussie author) for Geography, and gotten to research about the Phoenicians for Ancient History who may well end up scoring a story from me later on... *taps chin thoughtfully*

Unfortunately, I did not get a chance to do any creative writing or writing related things in Biology. So note to treat this one with caution. :P

3. Write on the way.

I spend approximately three hours a day on a bus. Those three hours are pretty darn boring unless I'm writing. Mostly, laptops are able to work offline on word, scrivener, or even docs, and that means that you can use this boring bus trip, or train trip, to write. Yes, screaming kids can be a pain, but if you put earphones in and block out everything but you and your characters, you'll manage! (Hopefully)

WARNING: Do not tune out so much that you can't get out if there is an emergency. Also don't do this if you're the one driving. *nods wisely*

4. Get the other things done ASAP.

I'm horrible at following this one, but I'll say it any way.

If you've been given an assignment that isn't due for another three weeks, don't leave it until the last minute. Get it done early. Otherwise, you'll spend the entire last week stressing over it, and won't actually get it done until the night before, but will have spent the entire week leading up to it procrastinating furiously, all the while being freaked out cos there is no way you can finish this thing on time.

Basically, if you finish it early, then you can say bye-bye to stress, and sit down and write when you would have been freaking out over a project.

5. If none of these are working, wake up half an hour earlier.

Unless you are so frantically busy that you aren't even getting enough sleep, waking up a bit earlier to get some writing in at the start of the day is a good option. I have a tendency to wake up a bit earlier some mornings if I really want to get some writing done, and it actually doesn't work too badly. Don't wake up an extra two hours before you normally would, but a little bit doesn't hurt.

I hope that helps you guys out for being able to write!

Have you got any ideas on how to make time to write? Ever used any of these ones?

Thursday, 2 August 2018

The Finale | A Project Update

It is over. 

Flightless is finished. Or at least, the first draft is. 

I figured I’d share a few things about this novel with you guys, and just wrap up my WIP posts for a while. Seems like that’s all I’ve been doing lately. So, here we go. May I present the last Flightless Post that you’ll see for a while at least. :D

Links to the previous posts:

Flightless | A Project Update
The World of Caldor | A Project Update
7-7-7 Tag

So, now that you’ve been refreshed with all of those, let’s look at some fun things about the story that have changed from the original plans.

Glayde became tall. Glayde was originally small. And about five years younger. Then I realised that that would have meant he had been in prison since he was about seven. And stayed there for ten years. *coughs awkwardly* So yes. That was upped a bit. *squints at my Glayde who is now a bit over six foot* 

The Etani came in a whole heap more than planned. Like, they actually have a place in the plot. *dramatic gasping* 

A plot twist happened.

Stats and Facts:

Look at how awesome those cabin stats are guys!!! I’m so proud of you! *happy claps* 

Number of cups of chai drunk: Well, We’ve gone through three over the last month, and I spent over a week consuming chai at other houses…and each packet of chai contains fifty tea bags…so, you can do the maths! (Note: There were sometimes other chai drinkers in the house. I can however confess that I was the greatest consumer.)

Most bizarre story research: Probably was my multiple hunts on how the brain is affected from years in solitary confinement and sensory deprivation. And no, you do not want to know what I’ve been doing for my characters.

Most words in a day: When I was doing a 10K day with Jane, I managed to get 10411 written. So, that was the most. 

Most listened to song (regarding writing not schooling): Well, lyrical, it would have been Who I am Hates Who I’ve Been by Relient K, and non lyrical would have been Flight by Mitch Chakour. 

Questions from a friend: (Same one who threw a shoe at me actually)

How would trio react if in this world? 

Goodness. They would freak out. A lot. Individually though, it would probably go something like this… 

Caution: Where is this place? Where are the trees? This is not on my maps. 

Glayde: *is silent* *internally* What has she done to us now?


What does normal life look like for them? 

Ooooh, I like this one.  

Before story starts: 

Caution would be spending most of her time studying and learning more about how to act as a queen. She also does a fair bit of horse riding and often goes on walks around the courtyard with her father who she’s quite close to. 

Glayde would spend most of his time doing stable hand things. He likes horses and spends a fair chunk of the time looking after them. He feels that they are the least judgemental of his past in prison. When not doing that, he’d be practicing with his sword, vaguely hoping to get revenge against the person who threw him in prison ten years ago. 

Suitini? She would be chilling in her cave. Reading books, doing some sword drills, and raiding nearby farms for food. She also would be hunting about for money to help build up her book collection, the one good thing she can find about being a human. She also would be given lessons and dragon training things from her mistress, Harani. On the side, she often tries to work out where her dragon/human blood mix came from. 

After the story? Welllll, too many spoilers there. (Mwhahaha)

If you had to retitle it, what would it be? 

Goodness. Well, I didn’t even come up with the title of Flightless so I’m not sure…Hmm… 

*One bus trip later*

*Nervous laughter* Still no clue. 

(Yes. I literally thought about this for a whole bus trip and couldn’t come up with anything. So, obviously it isn’t meant to be retitled.) 

Theme and message?

Ooooh, good one good one.

Freedom. Freedom was definitely my main theme in this book, as you can kinda derive from the title. Everyone is flightless in some way. Caution is ignoring her captivity to her forced lifestyle, until she nearly ends up in a messed up marriage, Glayde has lost more than his
voice, and is trying to free himself through revenge, and Suitini is held captive by her own inability to help others. 

So what is my message?

Basically, that freedom is found through sacrificing yourself to help others be free. Only when you are willing to lay down all that you have and can offer is it possible for you to really be free. 

Hopefully that made some sense.

Why did you write it?

Because about a week before Camp I had no novel, so I got myself a novel. :P

But in all seriousness, I wrote it as a way to convey that message, and to look into it more myself. I find that I am often writing about freedom, and it’s making me curious as to what that may be reflecting about me. I think most Christian writers write for a few reasons.

To glorify God.
To show others of his goodness and love despite our broken world.
To entertain.
To actually get to explore these ideas ourselves and to look into some of the deepest parts of our lives that we otherwise do not touch. Things that you need to see be played out on paper in front of you. Some things just need that extra layer of discovery.

Phew. End of questions. 


Hahaha. I guess I can put in a little snippet. Hmm…which one… 

This is from Suitini's POV nearish the climax.


The word echoes dully through my skull as the wind batters against my face. 

Coward. Traitor. Deserter. 

That’s all I am—everything that a dragon is not. My heart throbs in double time to the beating of my wings as the blur of green and grey passes beneath me. Trees and grasslands mesh together in a hazy jumble of emotions, all the same and all different. Why am I running away? Why didn’t I stay and fight? We could have overpowered them, surely. Trees had tried to get free. 

Am I worse than him?

Am I more of a coward than a man who makes deals in the middle of the night to betray an innocent girl?

Did I just betray them both to the King, as well as betray the entire kingdom of Corohan—all of Caldor?

I let out a roar and some of the pain in my chest vanishes. Startled squawking of birds rises on my left and the small feathery things fly off in mass. Sticking together. I grit my teeth and
angle my head for the cliffs. I’m not like a stupid pigeon. I’m like an eagle. Eagles fly alone. Solo. They don’t need anyone else, and no one has to depend on them. 

Like me. 

I’m not a pigeon. If they mistook me for one, then that’s their own fault. Anyone can see the difference. 

What about you? Any fun facts about your WIP? Why do you write?