Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Climaxes, false peaks, dragons and other metaphors for the final crisis

I mentioned it's an adventure story, right? I think of the final climb to the climax as battle scenes. The main character has gotten all the tools in hand, knows what the obstacles are and moves toward a direct confrontation with the antagonist.

I plan for that confrontation to play out over three escalating battle scenes, the first of which I wrote today. That brings the story and resolves a kind of climax that I think of as really a "false peak," to a metaphor from mountain climbing with those traditional illustrations of plot lines that look like a mountain peak. When you're ascending the mountain, the angle sometimes makes it appear you're approaching a peak, when actually there is actually a higher point that you can't see until you reach the false peak.

The first "false peak" climax of my story resolves an immediate danger, but a larger overarching danger still remains. Confronting that should be the real peak or climax of the story.

To use another metaphor from my old college literature courses, consider the "romantic model." In the traditional romance, the hero leaves the castle for the countryside, where he slays the dragon and then returns to the castle, where all is right in the world. In my story -- and in many other less traditional versions of the romance, I suppose -- after the dragon is slain, the hero returns to the castle to confront the traitor who let the dragon loose to begin with and who still presents a danger to order.

With luck, I could finish the "false peak" battle scenes within a week, though I don't really know how. But yesterday I didn't know how I was going to do the first of the scenes. I spent yesterday brainstorming and problem solving, and today I write it in about 2,100 words. Here's hoping I can knock out the rest of it the same way.

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