The new normal is a short scene that shows what the hero’s life will be like from now on. Without this scene, the story will feel incomplete and rushed
Month: November 2017
The Climactic Scene is the Final Confrontation
The climactic scene is the hero’s last confrontation with the villain, the antagonistic forces, and her personal lie. This is the moment she will either emerge victorious or everything will burn around her.
The climax is the moment the hero shows her new colors.
- Emmet become the teacher to Lord Business (The Lego Movie)
- Batman tells the Joker “You complete me.” (Lego Batman Movie)
- Sadness takes control of the panel (Inside Out)
The climax is the last moment before we get the answer to the question raised in the second half of the final battle
- Will President Business believe he is also the special? (The Lego Movie)
- Will Batman and Joker save Gotham? (Lego Batman Movie)
- Can Sadness get Riley to come home? (Inside Out)
The climax ends when we get the answer to this question.
Tips for getting the most out of the climactic scene
- Make sure the climax has the strongest tension.
This must be the highest stakes and the most difficult problem. If you have a previous conflict/scene that overshadows your climax, your story will feel off balance.
- If you are tying up multiple subplots, don’t let them distract from the main plot
Subplots help to fill out your character’s world, but it’s easy to get too involved in them. If you run into trouble, make a diagram of your subplots showing how they relate to the main plot. Then, reframe the hero’s problem to relate to his character arc. Keeping the plot centered on the character arc will ensure your story’s stakes are personal rather than generic. This will help your story feel original.
- If you have a theme, try to tie the climax to it
Not using the theme in the climax is like not adding herbs to the soup. Sure, you can do it, but you’ll end up with a pot of mushy boiled vegetables.
- No 11th-hour twists. The solution must already be in play
Finding a random solution will leave your readers reeling. Everything must already exist in the character’s world.
- No easy outs
Yes, I know about the Sonic Screwdriver but this is the exception, not the rule.
- The hero must solve her problem
Nothing is more anti-climactic than having the hero’s problem solved for them by some outside force.
- Superman didn’t fly in to put Gotham back together
- Riley’s parents didn’t show up at the bus station to take her home.
- The hero must solve her own problems. You can send in the cavalry after conflict has been resolved.
This is final moment. Now, your character can truly become a hero
The hero has conquered her lie. Now, she will conquer her struggles. Keep her focused on the outcome and your hero will have the ending she deserves.
Creating Anticipation for your Final Battle
It’s a long drive to the final battle and no one charged the iPad. Your characters will need to interact, but that doesn’t mean this scene should be boring. Creating anticipation in this scene will pull your readers deeper into the story and see them through to the end.
While this scene doesn’t need to be a literal journey, it does need to create anticipation. This is the moment before the final battle begins. The purpose of this scene is to add to the tension by reminding readers of the stakes.
What are the stakes?
Joy watches a cutscene where Riley runs away
Emmit meets the man upstairs and finally learns what he is really saving.
Wait? I thought you said no introducing new material this late in the game. -The man upstairs isn’t an 11th-hour twist. He is thoughtfully foreshadowed and this moment is the answer to a puzzle that has been hinted at through the entire movie. Once this happens, those pieces click into place (lego pun) and the entire movie makes sense. (And yes, I’m being intentionally vague for those who have not seen this movie, and if you haven’t, Go Do It Now. Watch it the first time to enjoy it and then again to analyze the plot structure, characterization, etc.)
What to do
Make a short list of everything that’s at stake
Be specific. “The world” is meh. Make sure those stakes are personal. If it really is the end of the world, make it something about the world that is precious to him. He’s not saving the world, he’s saving his little sister.
Create a scene reminding the readers of those stakes
The reader needs to know what will happen if the character loses.
Show, don’t tell
This can be tricky, especially if little sister isn’t on the plane with our hero. Instead of having your hero sit and think about his sister, he can play with the plastic bead bracelet she made him when she was six. He can talk to someone else on the plane about a memory. This will keep the scene from falling into telling. Rely on subtext, rather than info dumping in the dialogue and watch out for long paragraphs of exposition. Remember, if the camera can’t see it, it’s probably telling. Stuck? Ask “how do we know?”
Sam was worried. There were too many ways this mission could go wrong. But what else could he do?
Sam rechecked the straps on his pack. They were still perfect. Batteries were still fully charged. Clips were still fully loaded. Boot laces were still triple tied.
“Hey.” It was Julie’s voice. Her hair was pulled so tight it gave her a Valley facelift. “It’s gonna be ok.”
Sam scoffed. “You suck at pep talks.”
She grabbed his hand and slid her thumb over his scar. His pack suddenly gained fifty pounds. “We’re gonna get her back. I promised your mom. We won’t lose her this time.”
He tapped his head against the rib of the plane. “We didn’t lose her last time.”
Don’t just sit there, remind your readers what’s at stake
This is the lull before the storm, but it shouldn’t be dull. This moment is about creating anticipation. Remind readers what’s at stake and why they need to know how this all will end.
At the Second Plot Point the Hero Learns His Lesson
The second plot point is the final piece of information the character needs to complete his arc and finally solve his problem.
- Emmet learns that “special” is a state of mind
- Batman learns that shutting everyone out has made him a villain
- Joy learns that her favorite memory started sad
Characteristics of the Second Plot Point
Must be the final piece of the puzzle, but the character may or may not realize the significance at the time.
When Vitruvious tells Emmet that the only thing something needs to be special is to believe, Emmet is inspired into action. However, at this moment he thinks the new information means that everyone in the room had the power to be “the special.” With this knowledge, he is able to save the others through self-sacrifice, believing that someone else will be able to finally stop Lord Business.
The lie can no longer exist alongside the new information. Before the character could rationalize evidence that was inconsistent with his lie, but after this point, he cannot.
Once Joy sees that Saddness helped Riley process loss and grief and that leads to Riley’s happiest memory, Joy can no longer deny Saddness’s role in Riley’s mental health.
Must propel the character into action.
Both Joy and Emmet were paralyzed during their dark moment (all hope is lost). Once they had the new information, they were inspired into action. Before this moment, Joy believed that to save Riley, she had to save herself. After the new information she realizes that to save Riley, she really needs to save Saddness.
It is the pivot point in the story
The Second Plot Point is the final event in the third section. This is a critical point in the story. Everything has been building steadily to this moment. This marks the end of any set-up. Past this point, you should not introduce any new elements. Everything the hero needs to win must already be in play. No 11th-hour twists.
The second plot point marks the final lesson for your character
The second plot point makes true victory possible. It’s the final piece of the puzzle. This is what your character has been searching for. Now, it’s time for the final battle to begin.