Adding a climax. And thinking about an ending.
Of course, I only get to my climax after Camp is over. Oh well. That’s life, isn’t it? Irony.
Climaxes are funny things. Half the time, I don’t even notice them. I certainly never notice them when I’m writing them (have I ever even written a proper climax? I think… well, that one sort of had one… I don’t know about the little stories. I guess most of them had something of a climax. Sorry, I’m rambling). You see, the thing is, if an author is really good, a reader will notice that certain scenes are really exciting, more so than the others, but the buildup will be so subtle that it’s just natural for that part to be exciting, and the reader only really thinks about it afterward because there’s no time to think when you’ve got to keep up with what’s going on in the book! (I mean, really. When the scene is really exciting, can you stand to read slower than the book reads itself? It’s excruciating.)
Unfortunately, climaxes and endings are difficult to write.
The one ending I’ve ever really written was only acceptable because nothing else in the book was acceptable. It was, I suppose, the sort of thing you can only ever wrap your mind around loosely– or your brain will freeze to the icecream-frozen spoon. I should talk about that sometime. But not today.
It was sort of bewildering, really, to actually finish something. I’m one of those terrible people who can’t properly end things when they should be ended– I just drop them because they’re either not worth writing or being surpassed in interestingness by something else I want to write.
Climaxes, though. I’ve never really had any experience with climaxes. They either come or they don’t, and when they do it’s a wonderful realisation but when they don’t the story is all right but hopelessly bland.
But I have higher hopes for my Camp novel.
The thing is, climaxes are easy to dream of when one has a bit of a plan for how they want the story to end, because when one has an idea of how one wants the story to end, one thinks backward a little bit and almost subconsciously discovers what the climax will be. That’s what’s happened for me this last month. I had about forty thousand words of meandering, mostly rambling and not really getting anywhere, but then I realised that “Hey! It’s about time for the story to actually start doing things! Oh dear, I’m going to have to edit this thing a lot.”
I’d gotten the basic ending worked out thanks to a lovely friend of mine (whom I shall not mention the name of, but you know who you are, lovely friend), probably halfway through the month, or before. With that, in my case, came my climax. And I’ve forgotten what I was going to say.
The point is, climaxes and endings are difficult to write, endings particularly so. You’ve got to colour everything in, then wrap it all up. To use a colouring page analogy (oh dear. What am I doing?)…
Say you’ve got a colouring page. It’s of… anything you like. A duck. A strawberry. A lion. An airplane. A potato. Doesn’t matter.
The outline of the object is, as usual, solid most of the way around the object. What makes it different, however, is that most. On one of the sides, maybe at the leg or the left side or the wing or whatever, the outline is missing.
So you’re colouring the thing in. You start with the basic colours, the ones that are going to cover just about all of the object. Yellow, brown, grey, red. Then you reach the part that’s much more interesting. The wings, stem, stripes, mane, um, I don’t know what interesting parts there are on a potato. But still. It’s the most interesting part, the one that you can add bursts of green and pink and blue and purple and all sorts of outrageous colours to. You’re colouring that part in gleefully, when you realise that one side, coincidentally rather close to the interesting part, is missing the outline.
Now, you don’t want your duckstrawberryairplanelionpotato to have unfortunate green tumours. So you do your best to finish up the interesting part, keeping a little bit away from where the outline should probably be, and then do your best to fill in the outline.
Of course you can’t tell where the outline got erased. There’s no indication of it, other than the ends of the part of the outline that is there. So, after contemplating it for a while, you uncertainly draw a slightly wobbly line (wobbly to account for anything that was supposed to be there, slightly to account for the possibility that nothing was supposed to be there) and then go finish the rest of the colouring.