Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Story Climax: The Whole Point - Writing Tool by Victoria Mixon

Your Climax is your Premise. Remember that and it will bring you focus.

A few years back, before all the craziness of my move to Texas, subsequent relocation back to the west coast just a year later — in a whirlwind of dust and debris that felt as if it were as bad as a tornado — I read a handy-dandy post by Jami Gold with guest star editor Victoria Mixon. (The post is from an excerpt of Mixon's excellent: The Art and Craft of Writing Stories.)

Bomb by _Gavroche_ on
Blew my mind back then, and as I'm working on some outlining of a new epic fantasy, I'm reminded of it's usefulness. In an effort to iron out the concept in my own mind and share the brilliance with you, here is a snippet of that post and my own efforts to make it work.
"What’s the Climax of a novel? 
We must understand, for now, only this one, fundamental thing: the Climax is the real reason we write our stories. 
Once upon a time, two teenagers became so distraught over their passion for each other they committed suicide—that’s the premise. Cause? Their parents wouldn’t let them marry or even date—that’s the story. Cause of that? Their families hated each other—that’s the backstory.
—Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare"

In the post there are more examples to help drive it home, and they are laid out in the book as well. Here I'll make my attempt to distill some pieces down, including my own work, to show how it works.

A teenage boy hunts for a demonic killer and murders his kindly old neighbor—that's the premise. Cause? He must save the town from a killer that can not stop—that's the story. Cause of that? His neighbor is a demon and the boy is a sociopath obsessed with serial killers and death—that's the backstory.
I Am Not A Serial Killer, by Dan Wells
(Great book, big recommend! And the sequels may be even better.)

A young farmboy uses incredible powers to survive a series of ordeals to confront and destroy a terrible force—that's the premise. Cause? He is the Dragon Reborn and the only one that can destroy the Dark Lord—that's the story. Cause? He was saved and forced to find his power by multiple factions with their own motives—that's the backstory.
—The Wheel of Time, by Robert Jordan (and Brandon Sanderson)
*Ok that's a hard one to summarize, considering it is 13 MASSIVE books, but I think that does it. And in this case, the backstory is more or less all 12 prior books.

Now one for me. Oi. (Hardest yet!)

A brash young man convinces an arrogant magus to rebel against the laws of their society and save the day—that's the premise. Cause? They join a mercenary group to fight back against an evil society, while the magus despairs over his lost power and the young man grows in his resolve to find his—that's the story. Cause? They leave their secret order, each with their own deepset reasons—that's the backstory.
Seeking the Veil, by Clifton Hill (That's me. Which you already knew, because you're a sharp one.)

Ok, I was going to try Kip, but my head is hurting now. And I need to get back to that outline I was talking about. Which this little blog post was totally not about avoiding. Really.

Anyone willing to try the technique here? Go ahead, I dare ya!

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