Final Battle Clichés to
Adventures in NaNoWriMo

The Final Battle part 2 NaNoWriMo day 27

The Hero’s Problems Deepen

The final battle part 2 is the last step before the climax. Today you will be covering two points: the antagonist pushes back and the hero’s second battle.

The Antagonist’s Final Push

At this moment victory for the hero seems inevitable. Then, the antagonistic forces emerge even stronger.

This is such a common plot point that many clichés have emerged.

the surprise resurrection

Final Battle Cliches-www.themanuscriptshredder.comHere the villain appears dead, but when the hero creeps up to investigate, the villain suddenly jumps up and is now somehow not only unhurt, but actually stronger than he was before. This might have worked in the 90’s but for the modern audience , this is no longer believable. Everyone knows this is not the moment to get stingy with your bullets. Double tap that guy and get out of there.

Villain/hero can absorb a ridiculous amount of damage

Unless you are Wonderwoman battling Aries, actual people cannot absorb unlimited numbers of bullets/punches/blood loss. Yet, for some reason, writers who were reasonable with the limits of the human body lose touch with reality for the sake of an exciting climax. All this does is make your ending sound ridiculous. If you need more tension, get closer to the hero’s suffering. A bullet anywhere in the torso puts your hero out of the action, period. There are plenty of resources online that will give you the limits of the human body. Don’t ignore these.

In the Lego Batman Movie, Batman fails to stop the Joker and now Gotham is pulling apart.
In Inside Out, Joy has made it back to headquarters but she’s stuck outside the glass.

Both these moments show the antagonistic forces emerging to cause more problems for the hero.

Some rules for good villainy

  1. New problem must be believable. Villain doesn’t get any surprise powers.
  2. No deus ex machina (your villain doesn’t get away with it either)
  3. Your villain is a person too. He must follow the same worldbuilding rules.
  4. Everything must already exist in your villain’s world. (Lord Business released an army of Micromanagers, something he already had.
<li><span style="font-size: 1rem">In Lego Batman, Joker watched a news story that talked about the flimsy plates supporting Gotham.) If you need to go back and foreshadow something, make a note in your story and pick it up in your first round of edits.</span></li>

The Hero’s Second Attack

Theme Fight

The second attack must have something to distinguish it from the first.
Emmet attempts to teach Lord Business that he is the special too
Batman must convince Joker to work with him to put Gotham back together

Rather than being a simple fight between the two, the second half of the battle relates to the theme. This makes it more meaningful to the story.

Second goal

In Inside Out the second half of the final battle begins after Joy has gotten into headquarters, and now she must convince Sadness to take the control panel so she can stop Riley from running away. Here we see the results of Joy’s character arc: Sadness can help.

Now make it better

It’s easier to make the second half of your fight the same as the first (now with bigger explosions!), but this won’t give the reader what she wants.

Have the hero use what she had learned from the theme to solve her problem.
If you don’t have a theme, have the hero use her brain to solve the problem. This will produce a more satisfying ending than just pounding the “x” button.

This is the last step before the climax. The hero is almost there. Don’t ruin your ending by falling into cliché and lazy solutions. Your hero has already had an epic journey, give her the final battle she deserves.

Enjoy this article? Get the book:

M.L. Keller is a freelance writer and editor. Her blog "The Manuscript Shredder" is focused on helping emerging writers hone their craft.


  • frankwjh

    In your above list of Some Rules For Good Villainy you indicate that there would be five, but you give only four and leave “5” blank (the small print would not seem to be what is the missing 5th rule, but rather part of the 4th rule). So, were there only four? If so, then delete “5”. On the other hand, if you left number 5 blank by forgetting it, why not add it?

Now it's your turn

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: