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sunandshadow
01-10-2007, 12:29 AM
No not the sexual kind. I think a climax can be defined as a dramatic event that resolves all or most of the conflict of the story in one fell swoop. It changes conflict into a lack of conflict, and the reader's suspense into satisfaction, causing the reader not to be upset that the story is ending. So all climactic events are transformative in one way or another.

The simplest type of transformation is destruction. Most commonly a villain dies, which destroys both the villain's motivation to cause conflict and his/her ability to cause conflict. The hero(es) may die, destroying their desire and ability to fight back. The world or some part of it may die, eliminating conflict by giving it no place to occur. A foozle, spell, weapon, hostage, treasure, or other object may be destroyed, eliminating the issue the sides were fighting over.

There are also more complex, less drastic transformations. Humans may be transformed into non-humans, the urge to struggle may be transformed into the urge to cooperate, the ability to struggle may be transformed into an inability to struggle.

A constructive climax is also a possibility - instead of the conflict being resolved by ending something, it can be resolved by starting something new.

The cause of conflict in a story can also be thought of as a problem, in which case the climax would naturally be the solution of the problem. Revealing the solution to a mystery is a very common type of climactic event; in this case the transformation is the purely mental one from confusion to understanding. Also the puzzle might not be a question of "Whodunnit?" or "How was it done?", but "How can we do it?" In this case instead of an existing solution being discovered a new one is invented in a moment of epiphany.

Yet another type of climactic event is the change of ownership/alliance. The hero may acquire the treasure they were seeking: a foozle, a territory, a power, someone's heart. They could pass a burden they have been carrying on to someone else. A couple may declare their love for each other, or be wed, or have a child. Someone may change philosophies or sides in a conflict. The sides which have been in conflict throughout the story may just agree to stop fighting.

A story's climax often consists of more than one of these events. In particular romance novels often have a separate plot climax and relationship climax, which may occur 50 or even 100 pages apart.



So, yeah, have I forgotten any types of climaxes? Do you have more to add about any particular type of climax?

greatfish
01-15-2007, 07:37 PM
I think the categories can be broadened into two different types of climaxes that can fit all situations: The succesful completion of trials and the failure to complete trials.

The Success would include all instances of the protaganist achieving what they initial set out to accomplish. The mystery is revealed, the item is obtained, the foe is defeated. This type of ending is more satisfying for the reader, but also more superficial than the failure.

The Failure would be the opposite of the success. The protaganist doesn't solve the mystery, the item is not obtained, the foe prevails. This type of climax is generally less satisfying for the reader, and will even lead people to claim they disliked the entire story, but it is the stronger of the two endings.

The reason the Failure is the stronger ending is because it invites the reader to discover a deeper, more meaningful achievement than the successful climax can give. The struggle of the protaganist is the heart of every story, and when the story ends, the question will be, "What was the value of engaging in the struggle?". In the successful climax, the value is clear but superficial, "The protaganist recieved item A". In the unsuccessful climax the value of the struggle is not clear, the reader must look deeper into the story and the characters to discover what type of meaningful conclusion this ending has for the protaganist, despite the failure to accomplish their goals.

ColoradoGuy
01-15-2007, 07:47 PM
The reason the Failure is the stronger ending is because it invites the reader to discover a deeper, more meaningful achievement than the successful climax can give. The struggle of the protaganist is the heart of every story, and when the story ends, the question will be, "What was the value of engaging in the struggle?". In the successful climax, the value is clear but superficial, "The protaganist recieved item A". In the unsuccessful climax the value of the struggle is not clear, the reader must look deeper into the story and the characters to discover what type of meaningful conclusion this ending has for the protaganist, despite the failure to accomplish their goals.
So Tragedy is a higher art than Comedy?

WriterInChains
01-15-2007, 07:58 PM
The reason the Failure is the stronger ending is because it invites the reader to discover a deeper, more meaningful achievement than the successful climax can give. The struggle of the protaganist is the heart of every story, and when the story ends, the question will be, "What was the value of engaging in the struggle?". In the successful climax, the value is clear but superficial, "The protaganist recieved item A". In the unsuccessful climax the value of the struggle is not clear, the reader must look deeper into the story and the characters to discover what type of meaningful conclusion this ending has for the protaganist, despite the failure to accomplish their goals.

IMO, this is a tad simplistic. When I read a book with a "Successful" ending I don't dismiss any and all deeper meaning. I think you're not giving readers enough credit here. I love a good Tragedy, but every protag doesn't have to die for the story to have merit.

greatfish
01-16-2007, 05:24 AM
So Tragedy is a higher art than Comedy?

I wasn't talking genres necessarily, just the climax. It is possible to have a comedy where the protaganist fails at the end.



When I read a book with a "Successful" ending I don't dismiss any and all deeper meaning.

A successful ending can have a deep meaning, but a failing protag forces the reader to search for the deeper meaning to be satisfied, while the successful protag can leave the reader content just from knowing that the task was accomplished.



IMO, this is a tad simplistic.

It's easier to start simple.

sunandshadow
01-16-2007, 05:27 AM
I believe that the question of success stories is not "what was the value" but instead "which goals and approaches worked and which didn't?" Because even in a success story, there is only one or a few successes, there are also many failures - the protagonists fail throughout the early parts of the book until they finally succeed, and the antagonists fail at the end to show that their goals or objectives were not at good as those of the protagonists.