Yes, but how do you make your climax fresh? Especially in genre fiction where readers have certain expectations which must be met in order to satisfy them. If the male and female lead characters don’t end up together at the end of a romantic comedy, the story doesn’t really qualify as a romantic comedy. If the mystery isn’t solved, it’s still mysterious but it leaves mystery fans angry.
Here are three tips to make your climax fresh.
Know Your Genre.
Read a lot in your genre and not just books being published now, but classics from the past. As a mystery writer, I reread Agatha Christie because first, I enjoy her stories but also to see how a master plots. If you don’t understand what all the fuss is about Sherlock Holmes, you should read some of those stories to figure it out because he started the tradition of the brilliant, logical amateur detective. (Sorry, Edgar Allen Poe. Although your amateur detective C. Auguste Dupin was first, Holmes has had far more impact.)
Keeping current on what’s being published in your genre may seem overwhelming. One way to stay on top of it is to notice what’s most popular. If you can’t read them all, at least read reviews in review journals. If the book has a review in Publisher’s Weekly, Library Journal, or Book Page, it’s fairly well-known.
Choose Unusual Settings.
Once you understand the kind of climax your genre expects, you can explore how to give it a fresh twist. One way is to choose unusual settings. If those are based on your personal experience, even better. I know a missionary family who has lived in Jordan, Sudan, and Uganda. If one of them wanted to write a mystery, setting it in one of those countries would provide a lot of fresh raw material for English-speaking readers because of the differences in culture and climate. Setting a climax during a sandstorm in Sudan would bring different aspects into play than if you set in it an alley in New York City. But even better than using a fresh setting is to …
Create Fresh Characters.
Your climax brings your protagonist and antagonist into the most intense scene in the story. This intensity should bring out who they are at their core. While writing the climax for A Shadow on the Snow, I was having serious trouble making it fresh. After two runs at it, I still was unsatisfied with the ending. But then I allowed my teen detective to behave within the boundaries of her established personality and values. And I let the stalker she was confronting act out of his training and family history. Then I had a climax that made sense for these characters and had a fresh twist while still providing a satisfying ending to the mystery.
I’d love to hear from you! What make a climax fresh for you?