Thursday, March 22, 2012


Climax! Many of you are probably ready to write the part of your work-in-progress where all the forces collide. It’s what we wait for in a book. The opposing forces are gathering throughout the middle of the story and rushing toward the end for the pay off. Something has to give. If a peaceful compromise is found the story is over. It’s a major letdown. Don’t disappoint your reader by allowing the climax to fizzle. She might be disgusted enough to might throw the book across the room and she certainly won’t buy your next novel!

According to Nancy Kress in Beginning, Middles and Ends, the climax is whatever big event the forces in your story have been building toward throughout the book.

The climax should do four things:
1. It must satisfy the view of life implied in your story.

2. It must deliver emotion.
The readers should feel what your characters feel. We all want to identify with the story people we’re reading about.

3. It must deliver an appropriate level of emotion.
The level of drama in the climax should be the same as the level of drama in the story. For a thriller or suspense story, shoot off fireworks.

But in slower paced, quieter stories, a few kernels of popcorn popping might be better than an entire sky full of firecrackers.

4. The climax must be logical to your plot and your story.

So where does the climax come from? It grows out of the actions that precede it—what takes place in the earlier sections of the book. The climax must be a natural outgrowth of who your characters are and what events come before. It should be not only plausible for this particular group of characters, but also practically inevitable.

Here’s a good test for your climax. If your characters were completely different, would the climax be the same? The answer should be no.

The writer makes a promise to the reader right from the beginning. In a romance you promise to finally bring the hero and heroine together after keeping them a part for the majority of the story. In a mystery you promise to solve the crime and bring the murderer to justice. If you deliver anything less the reader will feel cheated and we wouldn’t want that, now would we?

We can’t avoid the promised collision and we can’t use new characters or situations to solve the problems we’re created and intensified throughout the story. All the conflicts, situations, tensions must be resolved at the climax in a logical and satisfying way using the same characters. The cavalry can’t come charging over the hill to save the day.

The easiest way for me to come up with a great climax is to figure it out ahead of time. I write down all the problems my characters need to solve and how they can do that. More than one resolution will probably work. Pick the most unexpected one as long as it makes sense. It has to be totally believable.

Do you have any books you love because of their fantastic endings?

I’ll be giving away a copy of Love by the Book. Please leave your e-mail if you’d like your name thrown in the hat.

A sweeping love story set in a lavish seaside mansion in 1901 Rhode Island. Melinda Hollister is a society lady, intent on finding a rich husband before her peers discover her quickly diminishing wealth. Nick Bryson is all business, focused on making a name for himself in his father's steamship line. Despite the marriage of their siblings, they rarely gave each other a second glance—until a tragic accident results in Melinda and Nick being appointed as co-guardians of their three-year-old niece Nell.
In order to get better acquainted with Nell and one another, Melinda and Nick agree to spend the summer in their own private quarters of the Bryson family vacation home, Summerhill. As their love for Nell grows, so does their attraction to each other. And for the first time in their lives, they sense that God has a bigger plan in motion.
Yet old habits die hard and Melinda and Nick each find it difficult to resist the pull of their former worlds.
When the unthinkable happens, they find themselves faced with seemingly impossible choices and a new understanding of God's true love.


Helen Gray said...

Yes, things are starting to fall apart for the hero and heroine in my wip. Your tips are SOOOOO timely. Thank you, Cara.

The coffee pot's set for morning.


Jan Drexler said...

Perfect timing, Cara!

I have the climax written in my WIP, but do I have the other elements you mentioned? Do I hint at the climax to come through the rest of the story? Is it appropriately emotional?

And most important, does it keep the promise I make to the readers in the opening pages?

Now I know which direction to take while I work on revisions tomorrow!

And yes, I'd love to win your book!

Carol Moncado said...

I hoped to be near that point by now but alas, I'm not. Not yet. I will be!

That said, my h/h had a VERY unexpected smoochie moment yesterday [Julie would be proud!] and that had fireworks ;).

I'm not quite sure what the climax/final hurdle/whatever of this book is. The one I'm querying/contesting with now, I didn't know until about 2/3 or more of the way through that my hero was keeping a pretty big secret [though once I realized it a lot of things made sense]. Then I knew what the climax was. Hoping I'll get there sooner rather than later with this one though...

I'd love to win the book!

carolmoncado at gmail dot com

Nancy Kimball said...

Cara, that's uncanny scary, LOL. I'm writing the climax right now. (2,490 words tonight!) For the first time in Speedbo, I'm actually ahead.
I like what you said about if the characters were different, would it still work.
Carol, that's awesome =)
One of my favorite books, for it's ridiculously awesome, didn't see that coming but how did I miss it ending is Ted Dekker's Three. Talk about fireworks.
Write on fellow Speedboers. We can do it!
And please enter me for your book Cara. And any of the critique's still up for grabs please.
nancykimball at hotmail dot com

Natalie Monk said...

YESSS!! I was needing advice on this very subject! Your timing is impeccable, Cara!

The hero proposed in my last scene and all the conflict seems to be resolved at this point--too early. Danger is creeping unseen, however, and the last spin I'm preparing to throw in unties most of those neat ends in preparation for the big climax.

What I'm wondering is will the reader keep reading if all the conflict seems to be resolved? Do I clue them in on the danger via the villain's POV or should I stretch and string along the subplot while my evil is lurking unknown? I don't want the reader bored, but I REALLY do want that ending-scrambler to be a shock.

You asked about book endings we love. The ones that come to mind are the most unexpected. Debra White Smith ended a novel with the hero kidnapping the bride from her own wedding--she had the wrong groom and knew it, so he was really rescuing her. In "Bittersweet" Cathy Hake wrapped up the story with an unforeseeable resolution. A sad ending seemed guaranteed until she turned things around. I love those happy endings that seem impossible, but are somehow reached. Kind of like the Bible. :)

KC Frantzen and May the K9 Spy said...

Outstanding Cara! (As we've come to expect here in Seekerville!)

Thank you.
Another printer-offer for sure.

I know the climax already, but have been working on WHEN to have a really black moment. Finally decided to just write the thing and see if it would tell me where it goes. Not yet, but we're much further ahead than we were - so it's all good.

And yes, would love to have my name in the bonnet: may at maythek9spy dot com

While we're at it - check out this link my Dad shared. As he wrote: "It is vital that you read this – print it out so you can reread."

Enjoy Speedbo-ers!

Mary Cline said...

Hi, great post Cara.

Natalie Monk, I like what you said, 'Kind of like the Bible" True, and the end was hinted at(and promised) from the beginning!

I'm thinking about changing my name for Seekerville. There are too many Marys with a "C" last name but I don't know who I want to be.

Please put me in the drawing.

Abbi Hart (gatorade635) said...

Great post! The climax truly makes a book!
There are a lot of book endings that are amazing but the one that first popped into my head was Digitalis by Ronie Kendig. I won't spoil anything but I'll just say it was good!
I would love to win this book! Thanks for the chance.

Cara Lynn James said...

Good morning, Helen! Thanks for bringing the coffee. It'll help wake me up.

I'm bringing an assortment of Danish, cheese blintzes, and croissants.

My story always seems to fall apart somewhere in the middle. The hero and heroine want me to just finish so they can be together. My job is to torture them some more. Don't let them be too happy until the end. They'll appreciate it if they go through a lot first.

Cara Lynn James said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cara Lynn James said...

Jan, it sounds like you've made great progress! It's hard to remember everything to include, but emotion is one of the really important elements. For some of us (me), it's hard to figure out just how much emotion to include without sounding melodramatic.

If you promise a romantic suspense, for example, be sure to balance the romance and the suspense according to what the publisher likes. Some books are heavy on romance, others on suspense.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Look at you writers go!!! Oh my stars, these are great comments!!! I'm waving my coffee cup, cheering you on in my jammies!

Hey, Helen, coffee's great btw!

Cara, well said! I love the popcorn vs. fireworks analogy. That made me think Julie vs. Ruthy....

I'm definitely the popcorn, but with a little butter!!!! :)

I will carry that analogy with me always. Brilliant!!!!

And Jan, that's the perfect goal for today. To see what you can feed into the manuscript to creep toward that climax....

I love that you see it that way!

Mary C, how 'bout "Lovin' Tebow In Brooklyn" or something SIMPLE like that?????


Or my favorite for you: "Yankee Lover"

The context of which could be taken in ways of your choice.

Or there's always the magic number "28" as in: We're closer to 28 World Series titles than some other teams I could mention.


Glad to help, honey!!!!

Laughing and ducking in upstate!!!

Jackie said...

I've been wondering about the climax of my story. I'm going to take your advice and come up with different scenarios then choose the best one. I'm so glad you suggested this.

Your new book sounds great. Please throw my name in the pot.

Thanks for sharing today.
Jackie L.

Julie Hilton Steele said...

Cara, I am so glad to see this post. I was thinking last night, "I am just writing scenes but not THE scene." I am a fireworks kind of girl but the way my story is currently written, popcorn would be more appropriate. Except I am allergic to corn.

As KC says, "another printer-offer for sure." Definitely better than a printer offer in my opinion, unless mine dies.

Oh, KC, read that article too. Isn't that marvelous?

Ruthy, I am so glad you are getting Tebow! That boy can bask in your love, nurture and prayers.

My car is yellow instead of teal this morning. Another glorious sign of spring.

Peace, Julie

Jackie said...

I was looking back over my plot and had a question.
The black moment can come before the climax, right? My hero is deciding which path to take and this leads him to the climax. (I need some coffee.)

I've missed the Tebow, in New York conversation, but I'll cheer for him where ever he goes. And Matt Stafford, too. Love those SEC guys!

Thanks, Cara.

Cara Lynn James said...

Carol, it's funny how we all associate the romantic moments with Julie, our passionate princess! I like to write those scenes too, but only if I'm in the mood. All that romance takes a lot of energy to write.

Nancy, I'm really, really impressed with your word count! I always find the climax and the ending the easiest to write. But I have to think it through so I don't leave any dangling threads.

Cara Lynn James said...

Natalie, since I haven't read your story I'm not sure where you are in your story. But personally I'd hint at the shocker to come so the reader will know there's something else exciting in the future.

Unexpected ending are the best! But they have to be a logical solution.

A story can logically have more than one possible ending. It's better not to pick the most obvious one. You don't want to the reader to complain she saw it a mile away.

Joanne Sher said...

Ohh - good stuff, Cara! I'm looking forward to writing my climax - and you've given me great things to think about.

Please enter me for the book :)

Audra Harders said...

Great build up to the climax, Cara! Pull in all the elements of your story and make the pieces rub together until the H/H about about to burst.

Great visual. Love the fireworks...and the popcorn. You don't always have to have a big explosion. Sometimes it's the little things, that singular focus in the aha moment, that have the greatest impact.

Thanks for the reminders, Cara!

Cara Lynn James said...

It's a great article, KC!

As far as black moment goes--I think I kind of write the black moment (everything is at the lowest point) and quickly follow it with the climax.

Anyone else have a better idea about the black moment???

I just write the climactic scenes or chapters without thinking too much about structure.

Cara Lynn James said...

So, Mary C for Cline, you're going to reinvent your name! Maybe you can use your middle name or initial. You're right about a lot of Marys. It's one of my favorite names!

Abbi, I'll have to read Digitalis. The title is certainly intriguing.

Jeanne T said...

Cara, I so appreciate this post! I'm prepping my synopsis to write from, and I'm a little stuck on my heroine's climax in the story. I know what it is, but I'm having trouble nailing all the elements you mentioned. Now I have words for them. :o) I think I'm having a hard time with her black moment because she allows something to happen that I hope to never do in my own life. Does that make sense? That's my revelation for the morning.

So, thank you for sharing today!!

BTW, as a Colorado gal, I'm very sad that Tebow is leaving. The new team will be blessed in many ways to have him! (sniff)

I would love to be entered in the drawing for your book!
wetalk2biz(at)q(lower case Q)(dot)com

Janet Dean said...

Cara, thanks for the tips on writing the climax of our stories!
Popcorn or fireworks, both sound good to me. Love the point that the climax should be not only plausible for your characters, but also practically inevitable.

I'm impressed how many SpeedBoers are writing the climax of their story right now. Way to go!!!


Sandra Leesmith said...

Morning Cara,

What a great post. And the climax is sooooo important. Thanks for reminding us that we need to build up to it.

Sounds like several of you are right at that point. I always write the climax first so I'm sure to build up to it.

How did you know that I love cheese blintzes. I'm going to forget writing for a moment and savor mine.

Happy writing.

Emily C. Reynolds said...

In my last ms, I knew the climax and resolution almost from the get-go, because I had to put my polar-opposite characters in the one situation that would force them to face their core-value differences. It was fun, because I'm a pantser, but on that one point I knew where I was going.

I think one of my favorites climaxes is in Lisa Wingate's Talk of the Town. Such a great job bringing the characters to that breaking point.

Thanks for the writing tips, Cara! And thanks for the giveaway. Sign me up!


Cara Lynn James said...

Ruthy, you aren't switching your loyalty from Jeter to Tebow, are you???

Jackie, some of my books lent themselves to more than one climax and ending, but others had only one that really worked well for me. Of course if someone else was writing my story, they might've found several other possibilities.

Julie Lessman said...

OH, MAN ... one of my FAVORITE topics!!! As a CDQ, I love, love, LOVE a climax in a story that explodes at the end of the book and blows the readers away!!! I actually get blue if I can't come up with a big surprise at the end, but so far, so good, I think!!

CAROL SAID: "Had a VERY unexpected smoochie moment yesterday [Julie would be proud!] and that had fireworks ;).

LOL ... Carol, I AM proud, my friend!! I trust a bad boy was NOT involved????


Julie Lessman said...

RUTHY SAID: "Cara, well said! I love the popcorn vs. fireworks analogy. That made me think Julie vs. Ruthy...."

LOL ... I always have been a bit extreme, but don't kid yourself, Ruthy, there are PLENTY of fireworks in those Allegheny Hills as I recall ... :)

CARA SAID: "It's funny how we all associate the romantic moments with Julie, our passionate princess!"

As it should be for a girl raised on the passion of Gone With the Wind, right???

Such a FUN blog today, Cara!!


Cara Lynn James said...

Julie, you're allergic to corn and popcorn, too? I love both. Especially popcorn! It's my favorite snack. You can let it pop for your stories even if you're allergic to the real thing!

Good morning, Joanne!

Pamela S Thibodeaux said...

I love your description of the various ways the story's climax can be looked at.

I'm not to that point yet, but did sneak in a scene this morning (I'm a Speedbo weekend warrior) - The heroine and I got a pleasant surprise from one of the cowboys... :-)

I've promised myself if I work really hard making phone calls today, I'll reward myself .... who knows, maybe I'll get the chance to write another scene (or two)!

Good luck and God's blessings Seekerville friends!


Cara Lynn James said...

I have a question for all you writers. In a romance does the romantic climax have to be at a different spot in the story than the action (secondary plot) climax?

MaryC said...

Mary Cline - I was thinking the same thing. I actually tried to change my profile name but couldn't get it to stick.

Cara said -
"Mary C is for Cline"

Nope :)

Ruthy said -

Laughing and ducking in upstate!!!

You'd better duck with comments like those! ;)

To quote Ruthy - "Youse guys" made me laugh because this is exactly why Mary wrote this.

MaryC is me = Mary Curry

Mary Cline = Mary Cline

Then there's THE Mary = Connealy

So, Ruthy - this Brooklynite NON-Yankee lover is me. ;)
but not Mary Cline or Mary Connealy.

BTW - I really hope I didn't mess up the weather powers with my Mist post on Tuesday. We've had misty days every single day since here in Brooklyn.

Carol Moncado said...

Julie - well, Travis has a BIT of a checkered past [fell away from the faith or however you want to phrase his rebellious phase for a couple years right out of high school], but he's been nothing but a wonderful devoted dad for fifteen years.

Of course, then mom showed back up and daughter caught them smooching. A smooch that would make you proud, darlin'. So you can imagine how daughter's feeling right now ;).

Back at Panera today. Just over 4 hours before I have to leave [instead of the 6 I'd planned on] so I gotta get crackin'! Headed to #1k1hr to see what kind of damage I can do to all of them ;).

Carol Moncado said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mary Connealy said...

I love the climax, the final battle, the terrible risk necessary for good to triumph over evil.

I love the gunfire.

Bridgett Henson said...

Oh Cara! You read my mind and knew just what I needed today. I have perfected the black moment but the ending seems to gradually resolve conflict.

Off to buy some fireworks.

MaryC said...

Mary Cline - I was thinking the same thing. I actually tried to change my profile name but couldn't get it to stick.

Cara said -
"Mary C is for Cline"

Nope :)

Ruthy said -

Laughing and ducking in upstate!!!

You'd better duck with comments like those! ;)

To quote Ruthy - "Youse guys" made me laugh because this is exactly why Mary wrote this.

MaryC is me = Mary Curry

Mary Cline = Mary Cline

Then there's THE Mary = Connealy

So, Ruthy - this Brooklynite NON-Yankee lover is me. ;)
but not Mary Cline or Mary Connealy.

BTW - I really hope I didn't mess up the weather powers with my Mist post on Tuesday. We've had misty days every single day since here in Brooklyn.

MaryC said...

Cara, I agree with everyone that your timing with this was perfection!

There were a couple of points you made that really made a lot of sense to me.

"It should be not only plausible for this particular group of characters, but also practically inevitable."

I'm thinking about the work I'm revising. The climax felt right to me, but your point explains why and gives me confidence I did it right this time!


Mary (Curry)

Jamie Adams said...

Are you somehow reading my wip? How did you know exactly where I was?

I did throw a book across the room once, but it was because I could not stand any more road blocks.

I avoid conflict in real life so at first it was hard to put it in my writing but now that I've gotten the hang of it, its kinda fun :)

I would love to win a copy of your book.

Linnette R Mullin said...

I LOVE this series! Please put my name in the hat. lr dot mullin at live dot com. :D

I haven't reached the climax yet. My heroine is on an emotional roller coaster ride trying to deal with her past that's stirred up by her present. My hero is in the midst of major life changes, taking a huge risks for a woman he's not sure is even meant to be his, but he just can't help himself. In the meantime, this super nice guy has set his eyes on the same woman and he can offer her comforts and financial security my hero can't.

I'm got in 2270 words yesterday. So, rather than trying to reach 2K today, I'm going to go for beyond 2K again. :D

Linnette R Mullin said...

Ruthy thinks she's popcorn? That's some pretty volatile popcorn!

Jan Drexler said...

My 2-cents worth on the Tebow thing?

I really like Manning, too, so I'll keep on being a Denver fan - now I have two teams to watch and cheer for each week! I think my DVR is going to be busy next fall :)

Cara Lynn James said...

I have to confess I'm not a great football fan, but I'm from Connecticut only 2 hours away from the city so I love all New York teams. But I went to school near Boston, so I love their teams too! I just don't watch many of the games.

I'm amazed so many of you have buckled down and written so much on your wips. I'm far behind. My husband was sick and then I went to Silken Sands, my RWA group's conference. I won't catch up, but I'm making progress.

Cara Lynn James said...

Jeanne, you have to make things as difficult as possible for your hero and heroine, even though it can be really painful! That'll make the resolution all the sweeter.

Audra, I love how you said this: Pull in all the elements of your story and make the pieces rub together until the H/H about about to burst.

Vince said...

Hi Cara:

“The easiest way for me to come up with a great climax is to figure it out ahead of time.”

Yes! Yes! Yes!

Great post!

I call this being a “Restnap” – that’s a reverse pantser. Create a great climax and then pantser a way to get to it.

In a way, I think things are a little backwards in the way we learn to write novels. The great ending should come first. A great ending gets you much better reviews. A great ending can cover up a host of shortcomings in the early part of the book. A great ending sells your next book. A great ending generates great word of mouth publicity. A great ending in a world of average endings earns a place in the reader's mind.

But an average ending, coming after a great opening, falls well below reader and reviewer expectations. This hurts reviews and disappoints readers.

Just imagine all the great endings we would see if writing contests only judged the last 30 pages!

Again, a great post. Reading it was like hearing a toning fork hit the perfect pitch. I would add that the climax should probably mirror the Moral Premise.

Guaranteed Great Endings:

“The Christmas Carol”
“High Country Hearts”
“The Officer’s Secret”
“Autumn Rains”
“A Heart Revealed”


P.S. I have all your books.

P.P.S. If it is a ‘Rin Tin Tin’ romance, it’s ok for the cavalry to come over the hill and save the day. Isn’t that right, KC?

P.P.P.S. Is that woman on the cover of your book Charity O'Connor? I wouldn’t put it past her! : )

Vince said...

Woe is me

Mary C
could be
any one
of three
which is
for anyone
as old
as me.

Vince said...

Speedbo Report

“Stranded” Edit Project
Project Goal:
Edit 55,500 words

March 21, 2012
Words edited or written yesterday: 3743
Total words to date: 15,335
Words to go: 40,165
Percent Left to edit: 72.36%
Time Left to edit: 62.50%
Running: Behind Schedule

”Fewer posts, more production".

Back to work!

Mary Connealy said...

I have never been in a group of any size ... of my age ... where there weren't an over abundance of Marys. So I'm used to it.
Last names help, though, and pictures.

Also, apparently, I'm now a Jets fan.

Mary Connealy said...

Honestly, Im not football fan. I started paying attention because of Tim Tebow.

And he gets NO RESPECT.

Love Peyton Manning, too.

And yesterday when they said Payton was banned from pro football for a year, I had a very confused reaction until I realized Payton with an A is the coach of the Saints. Peyton with an E is the QB for the Broncos

Cara Lynn James said...

Sandra, let's have another cheese blintze! Anyone else want one?

I don't write the climax first, but I do know what it'll be generally. Sometimes a get a 'brilliant' idea while I'm working on my wip and incorporate it into the story. Then I probably will have to tie it into the climax somehow. A lot goes into a good climax.

Cara Lynn James said...

Emily, I haven't read Talk of the Town, but I'll put it on my to read list.

It sounds like you're working hard, Pamela. Keep writing those scenes. They do pile up. It'll be quite a while before I catch up with everyone. I'll just extend into April.

Missy Tippens said...

Great post, Cara! Yes, it's something we have to build toward. And I find I often get to the end of the book and realize the climax I had planned won't work anymore. I thought I'd never figure that one out. :)

Cara Lynn James said...

Carol, I envy you your time at Paneras. Are you having lunch? Where do you live? I'd love to join you.

Julie, when I think of GWTW, I always think of you and then Scarlett and Rhett. How many times have you seen the movie and read the book? I've read the book 3 times, but I've seen the movie lots more than that.

Carol Moncado said...

Cara - I'm in the Springfield MO area. So far almost 2K for the day. Was hoping for 5K but only have about 90 minutes left so unlikely...

Just finished my broccoli/cheddar soup w/ a bread bowl. My mac n cheese is still waiting on me.

You are welcome anytime, Cara dear. So is anyone else :). Though I'd likely get less work done ;).

My heroine is at church for the first time ever except the occasional wedding or funeral. Poor gal is a bit befuddled as she stands in the foyer. Better have the hero rescue her ;).

PatriciaW said...

Not quite there. (It would help if I were writing more consistently, but I'm planning for a power writing weekend.)

Pretty much any Steven James book has a big climax. Just finished Love's Sacred Song by Mesu Andrews (story of Solomon) and there's a big finish in that too. Love books with a big finish. Helps the book to be more memorable.

Myra Johnson said...

As always, a timely and informative post, Cara! As a "writer into the mist," I don't always know EXACTLY what the climax will be, much less how it will unfold. But it sure is fun discovering the clues along the way!

Speaking of which, I plunged into the mist of my next book yesterday and wrote the opening scene.

Now I MUST figure out what happens next! Hopefully my characters will quickly inform me. They're smart that way.

Stephanie Queen Ludwig said...

Hi Cara! Great post on getting that perfect climax. Since I'm polishing up draft 2 of my novel, I had to compare your notes with what I've already written. Doing alright, if I do say so!

I remember when I planned it out, though (yes, planning a story is ALWAYS good in my book!), and I started thinking that the HEA was just a little too trite. I had to mix it up, so I ended up adding some things I never initially planned on. I brought back earlier plot points, and I think it all came together very nicely. I even redeemed a character I hadn't planned on making an appearance! Although, no one but me has read that far, so we'll see what other opinions think.

I've read your first two but not this one, so please include me in the drawing!

stephludwig at hotmail dot com

P.S. No offense against the Marys, but I'm glad my names stands out :)

Cara Lynn James said...

Bridgett, if fireworks seem too explosive for your story you can always buy popcorn! At least it'll taste good.

Jamie, I think a lot of us try to avoid conflict in real life, though I can think of a few family members who don't. But in a book you have to go against your natural inclination and give your characters a lot of trouble. That's what people like to read. But most of us don't want to live like that.

Cara Lynn James said...

Yay, Linnette! Congratulations on getting so much writing done. BTW, I agree Ruthy is more firecracker than popcorn.

Lyndee said...

Wow, Cara, spot on with timing! Also like the popcorn vs fireworks analogy. Comparisons like that help me to wrap my head around concepts. It's fun to see where everyone is on this SpeedBo adventure, and so many appear to be right there, at the good part and we still have some days left! Very cool!

And, from the woman who spent her honeymoon at the Canton Football Hall of Fame, I'm THRILLED that Tebow is going to the Jets because I like Sanchez and I think they'll make a killer QB combo.

I'm fond of Sanchez because when the press caught him eating during a game and made a big stink about it, he turned it around. He was recovering from the flu and hadn't eaten for two days, but during the game he realized he needed the strength, so he grabbed a hot dog from a vendor and ate it on the sidelines between plays. The league penalized him with a fine. He not only paid that, but he tripled that fine amount to buy hot dogs, hamburgers and buns for two NJ food banks that desperately needed help. Delivered the food personally. What a man. Of course, the press barely mentioned it, but he gained me as a fan.

Cara Lynn James said...

Vince, I agree that great endings make for great stories. I usually have to write the a few chapters to get to know my characters before I can figure out if my climax/ending will be okay. Usually it is. Then as it gets closer I can develop it more.

I also agree it's probably very important to an editor since it's what leaves them with a lasting impression--at long as the rest of the manuscript holds their attention long enough to get there. I've never had an editor change the climax, but my beginnings have often been changed.

Cara Lynn James said...

Have a great power writing weekend, Patricia!

Missy, I'm wondering if you have any trouble finding a new climax if the one you planned doesn't work. I think it wouldn't be too difficult because by the time you get to that point you really know your characters and story very well.

Myra, writing into the mist scares me because I'm never quite sure where I'm going. Usually I head down the wrong trail, but I don't know it at the time. I can't stick to an outline without deviating, but it helps to keep from writing too many scenes I have to cut. Obviously you do a better job staying on course!

Julie Lessman said...

CARA ASKED RE GONE WITH THE WIND: "How many times have you seen the movie and read the book? I've read the book 3 times, but I've seen the movie lots more than that."

Too many times to count on the movie -- maybe 15 or 20 times?? The book? Only read it about 5 or 6 times. :) And the sequel, Scarlett?? Read the book about 3 times and saw the movie about 4 times. :) Either way, I'm considered a fanatic, I'm sure ... ;)


Carol Moncado said...

Julie? A fanatic? Surely you jest!!

Patricia - I won Mesuandrews book this week! Looking forward to it!

Just over 4k at Panera. Total of 442xx for speedbo. Headed for the in laws and busy weekend so that may be it until Sunday.

Walt Mussell said...

I write my intro first and my climax then conect them in the middle, sort of like companies that build tunnels under channels.

I have a question. How do you feel about stories that start with a climax and then make you wait for two hours (or however long it takes) to get there.

The Blind Side is one movie that does this.

I'm definitey in. wmussell(at)hotmail(dot)com.

Melanie Dickerson said...

Hi, Cara! I've read a lot of books where the ending kind of fell flat. I try really hard to end my books with major fireworks! I don't want to let my reader down at the end. I want to reward them!

I love the way all of Jane Austen's books end. (Although I do wish it had been more acceptable in her day to let the hero and heroine kiss!!!) Julie Lessman and Ruth Axtell Morren are particularly good at endings, I think. And so is Rene Gutteridge. I loved her Boo series. I also love the endings of Ibbotson's A Countess Below Stairs and The Reluctant Heiress. Be still my heart!!!

Cara Lynn James said...

Stephanie, congratulations for polishing your second draft! You're really making progress. Don't forget to submit it as soon as it's ready!

Cara Lynn James said...

Julie, did you like the book Scarlett? I never read it. Was there really a movie Scarlett? Was it good?

Cara Lynn James said...

Lyndee, was it your idea or your husband's to spend your honeymoon at the Canton Football Hall of Fame? I'll bet you didn't meet many honeymooner's there! Or maybe you did.

My husband would appreciate it if I had an interest in football, but I can't get beyond all the background noise. I prefer baseball or basketball. Actually, I love figure skating best of all--to watch, not to participate it.

Cara Lynn James said...

Walt, I think your method is very logical. My motto is do it whatever way works for you. This would be fine for me too and it would keep me on track.

Personally, I don't like to see the climax in advance.

Mary Cline said...

I think all books, TV shows and stories in general should all come with at Scooby Doo ending just in case.

Great poetry Vince.

I will see about changing my name soon. Maybe I will like it and have a nom de plume forever.
Somebody tell me how to spell that.

Virginia said...

Ooooh, true!!

Let's see... Pride and Prejudice has a great climax (Lydia's elopement), Hunger Games has a great end (told there could be two winners, then only one), etc. Like Julie said, a big BANG makes me happy at the end of a book.

Mary Connealy said...

WALT, I know a very successful author who writes the beginning, writes about two or three explosive scenes she's got in mind, then writes the end, then she goes in and writes forward and backward until they connect.

It works for her.

Cara Lynn James said...

Carol, I am totally impressed with 4K words! That's amazing to me. Writing that much would burn me out for a week.

Cara Lynn James said...

Virginia, I love everything about Pride and Prejudice. It's hard to believe Jane Austen could write so many long, fantastic books by hand. It would be difficult enough with a computer. She must not have needed extensive revisions. Of course she was a genius.

Cara Lynn James said...

Melanie, popcorn popping is fine! I don't think all stories need fireworks. In fact, it wouldn't work well for quiet stories.

Susan Anne Mason said...

Hi Cara,

This is one book I have no idea how it's going to end! I may have two separate romances and somehow need to come up with 2 black moments and 2 climaxes. Whew. Need to figure all that out pretty soon! LOL.

I'd love to be in the drawing for your book.

sbmason at sympatico dot ca

Stephanie Rae Pazicni said...

Knowing the ending BEFORE writing the story, what a NOVEL idea. I'm going to try that next time... it has taken me so long to find the ending to my current WIP that I've had time to dream up several outlines.
Adore unexpected endings. My latest favorite one is a new read, "The 13th Tribe" by Robert Liparulo. Highly recommend.

Sharon said...

any books you love because of their fantastic endings?
Pride & Prejudice
Sense & Sensibility

all fabulous endings!


Jackie S. said...

Cara, I've read Books 1 and 2 (loved them)and am so anxious to read this one. Please count me in! Thanks!!!

Cara Lynn James said...

Sharon, I think Jane Austen was fantastic since she didn't have many models to go by and no writers' books, no conferences or workshops etc. And no computer. What talent!

Cara Lynn James said...

Stephanie, I'm going to look up The 13th Tribe. The title is intriguing.

Susan, I've always wanted to write a book with 2 or 3 romances in it, but I imagine it's complicated to plot. I'd be hopelessly lost if I didn't plot it out carefully first.

Mary Connealy said...

Fantastic endings?
To Kill a Mockingbird comes to mind.

You know the kind of endings I always loved? I used to think The Big Valley, would take turns with each of it's stars having an episode be 'theirs'. They'd maybe stay home and have the trouble right there but a lot of times, they'd be doing something ELSE, somehow away from the family and they'd get in terrible trouble, save themselves, then seconds later here would come the whole family, searching for them, riding in to save them. I always liked that. Tough enough to save yourself but there's the family coming for you, knowing they'd come.

Anne Payne said...

Jamie Carie's latest book, the Guardian Duke, is a huge cliffhanger! I was on pins & needles near the end, and almost lost it when I realized the ending that was coming :) BUT, that made it all the better to me. Means I MUST have the next book, no two ways about it. I thought it was a brilliant move on Jamie's part.

Thank you for the opportunity to win a copy of Love by the Book!


Cara Lynn James said...

Mary, To Kill a Mockingbird is still one of my all time favorites.

I didn't think you were old enough to remember The Big Valley! You must have seen it in reruns!

Cara Lynn James said...

Anne, I'll check out The Guardian Duke. I've collected the names of a lot of books today with great climaxes. So now I'll buy even more books. All I need is more time to read them.

Lyndee said...

I always say that I'm the perfect wife - I hate shopping and I love football!

But, after 34 years of marriage, I know now that I should have insisted we honeymoon in Maui, haha... ;)

CatMom said...

Thank you Cara - - very timely for me too! Great reminders and another keeper post. ~ Blessings, Patti Jo

Cara Lynn James said...

Thanks, Patti Jo!

Lyndee, I'm definitely the imperfect wife--I love to shop and I hate football. But I don't complain when my husband spends the weekend watching football on TV. I just shop. It works out well.

Whitney said...

Ahh, the climax. When things fall apart so they can come back together. :D

I agree that P&P has a great climax.

Thanks for sharing!



Nancy C said...

Oh, gosh, totally agree about To Kill a Mockingbird. It's a brilliant book on so many levels ... pacing, character, dialogue, people having the courage to live what they believe, emotionally satisfying, on and on. And wow, what an ending.

You ladies have an amazing ability to post exactly what I need to read that day. Thank you.

And I'm so enjoying reading about everyone's writing process -- and progress. Thank you for posting and sharing.

Nancy C

Cara Lynn James said...

Hi, Whitney! It's interesting that so many of us love Jane Austen. I guess we all appreciate how great her stories are.

I think To Kill A Mockingbird is the only book Harper Lee wrote. She said all she wanted to say in one novel.

marybelle said...

The CLIMAX should fit the story.

Count me in for LOVE BY THE BOOK thank you.


by Pegg Thomas said...

There is nothing better than the best ending to a story. Nothing. I pray I'll be able to hit that high mark some day. :)
twinwillowsfarm at gmail dot com

Courtney said...

I just read Heiress and Baroness by Susan May Warren, and those books had AMAZING climaxes. I honestly did not know what was going to happen.i loved it! I didn't want to stop reading until I knew how things would turn out.
Please include me in the giveaway:)

Julie Lessman said...

CAROL SAID: "Julie? A fanatic? Surely you jest!!"

BRAT!! :)

CARA SAID: "Julie, did you like the book Scarlett? I never read it. Was there really a movie Scarlett? Was it good?"

Yes, I did like the book Scarlett, but ONLY because I love GWTW. It was not written EVEN CLOSE to as well as Margaret's, but I didn't care. Just wanted to Scarlett win Rhett back, and OH. MY. GOODNESS!!! The love scene in the shack on the beach is TO. DIE. FOR!!!!! I must of reread it at least 10 times, it's THAT good!! :)

And, yes, there was a made-for-TV movie called Scarlett that had some real weird stuff and twists in it, but I didn't care -- it was Scarlett and Rhett on the screen once again, and I was mesmerized. :)


Julie Lessman said...

MEL SAID: "I love the way all of Jane Austen's books end. (Although I do wish it had been more acceptable in her day to let the hero and heroine kiss!!!) Julie Lessman and Ruth Axtell Morren are particularly good at endings, I think."

Mel, I TOTALLY AGREE!! When I saw the latest vs. of P&P with Keira Knightly and they kissed in the LAST FREAKIN' SECOND of the move, I about died. I literally groaned because although I loved the movie, I cannot believe they just gave us one second of lip-lock!!! Talk about frustration ... almost had to watch GWTW again just to calm me down. :)

And THANK YOU, sweetie, for the nice comment -- SO appreciate it!!


Julie Lessman said...

ANNE SAID: "Jamie Carie's latest book, the Guardian Duke, is a huge cliffhanger! I was on pins & needles near the end, and almost lost it when I realized the ending that was coming :) BUT, that made it all the better to me."

Oh, Anne, I SOOO agree!!! I had the pleasure of endorsing Jamie's book, and my jaw dropped when I got within a few pages from the end. I kept thinking ... no, she's not gonna do this, is she???? HOLY FREAKIN' COW ... she did!! Consequently, like you, I am CHOMPING at the bit to read Jamie's next one ... the little brat! :)

And you know who else does this cliff-hanger thing??? I just finished reading Lisa Bergren's upcoming book "Glamourous Illusions," and I literally blinked at the last page for several seconds, not daring to believe Lisa could do that to me, tongue hanging out and all!! Just like Jamie's book, Lisa's is another EXCELLENT read that makes me want to pounce on book 2 when it releases.


Natalie Monk said...

I will definitely take your advice, Cara! I'm at 72,000 words--about ten scenes from the end. I think maybe I can hint a little without giving it all away. Thank you!

Janet Kerr said...

I enjoyed "The Princess Bride" because of its happy ending!

Janet Kerr said...

Oh, & please include me in the draw.


Rachelle Rea said...

Thank you for this post and please throw my name in the hat! :)

biblioprincess15 (at) yahoo (dot) com

Rebecca said...

Pick the the most unexpected, but believable climax... Aha! I hadn't heard that before. Thanks for the tip!

And I'd love to read your book!