Category Archives: marc henry johnson

Writing tips from Marc Henry Johnson

Marc-Henry-Johnson-On-ClimaxesThe climax of your story is (usually) where all your character conflict and your unfolding plot is resolved or your protagonists goal is achieved. Usually this would be at the end of the story but in television or in films like Pulp Fiction, this structure may not be so clear cut.

When a decent screenplay does an effective job at building rising conflict then the anticipation builds toward what surprises and turns the coming resolution brings. Resolving the conflict of your story needs to be equal to the amount tension you’ve built up in the audience or they may feel a bit cheated. But trust me, fixing a bad or inadequate ending is a problem that is much easier to solve than having a boring or unfocused beginning.

As an aside- I always laugh when an inexperienced or bad writer gets upset when I give up reading their script after the first few pages. Time is the most valuable commodity in the world and if I’m helping you out by investing my time, you really shouldn’t dare to waste mine. A script that is bad by page 3 is usually bad by page 20, and typically even worse on page 50 or 80. But show me a script that is good at the beginning and in the middle and very likely that script will be good at the end. And on occasion when a good script ends poorly, it is disappointing but forgivable because I don’t feel like I’ve wasted my valuable time.

So back to the subject at hand. Getting a really impactful climax tends to be the most exciting part of the story because the reader gets the expected emotional payoff and thank you for taking up their time to read it.

Now a lot of newbie writers struggle with building up all the right level of anticipation- making the plot seem choppy- rushed in some places, too long in others and then suddenly they’re at the climax.

This type of ending falls flat so here are four tips on how to write a strong:

Tip One

give your protagonist a disadvantage the climax is supposed to be intense and nothing makes the climax more intense than when the protagonist is walking into the moment as the underdog.

You want the reader to question whether or not the protagonist is going to succeed. If the reader feel like conclusion is guaranteed, it’s not going to be exciting so have your protagonist enter the story as the expected loser and this can be great help to stories in all if not most genres.

If you’re writing a war story make sure the protagonists army is significantly outnumbered and if you’re writing a love story and your protagonist is fighting to win his girl back, make sure he’s up against another guy who’s got way more money or influence than he does.

Putting a protagonist at a disadvantage is the key to ramping up the anticipation right from the start and that’s how you get your reader interested in the climax from the start of the storyline.

Tip Two

Your bad guy needs to be a better competitor than your good guy. As the old writer’s formula states- your story is often only as interesting as your bad guy. And it really helps if your bad guy thinks he’s the star of the story. Read the rest:how to execute a climax in writing for television.