These are probably the most “advanced” tricks in this book. They take careful planning, foresight and deliberation. But when they’re done right, it’s beautiful.
(I can not take any credit for these thoughts. They are a simplified version of what Robert Mckee states in his opus, “Story.” It’s a book for writing screenplays, but I highly recommend it to novelists as well.)
1. The perfect climax is both UNEXPECTED and INEVITABLE.
The reader should reach the end of your book and think to themselves, “I didn’t see this coming... but how else could it end?”
2. The perfect climax will dictate the theme of your story.
The method the protagonist uses to ultimately solve his problems will point to your theme.
Think about the ending to your favorite books and films. Do they implement one or both of these tricks? Consider the following examples from cinema:
Rosemary’s Baby: Rosemary embraces pure evil as she rocks her newborn to sleep.
All That Jazz: Joe Gideon performs a song and dance as he dies of cancer.
Rear Window: Jefferies uses his camera to thwart the bad guy.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: Joel and Clementine listen to the mistakes they made in the past, and decide to try again.
Apocalypse Now: Willard kills Kurtz and suffers the same descent into madness as his victim.
Memento: Leonard Shelby uses deception and his lack of short-term memory to give his life meaning.
None of these movies could have ended any other way, yet we never see them coming. Not only that, but the theme of each movie is worked magically into the way the characters ultimately solve their problems.
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