1. HenWii

    HenWii Member

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    Can a Story have two climaxes? (info below)

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by HenWii, Sep 18, 2021.

    Hello fellow writers,

    this is my first post on this community.

    So my question is. I will write a novel for the first time. My novel will have two climaxes and I wonder if I can do that, I share some info about it.
    The novel will have three plot strings:
    Loneliness (which fades away over the course of the story)
    Romance (obviously sex will be the first climax ;) )
    Stress at work (the second climax will be, that the protagonist faints in her office from stress and she falls bad and lands in the hospital, with the insight she has to do something about her stress level)

    Since now I wrote many shorter Storys (trilogys) which have about 25k to 45k words. This novel will be a little longer. All of them were young adult. My stories all took place in a similar setting and all of my characters know each other on a level. This novel is thought to finish their story. I really like the protagonist and I know I will have a hard time letting her go but I want to give her a deserved end.

    So thank you for taking your time and have a good weekend! :)
     
  2. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin A tombstone hand and a graveyard mind Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Technically, no, I would say. You can have many climatic moments, but by definition, only one climax. Kind of like a mountain having only one summit.
     
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  3. Kehlida

    Kehlida Member

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    I would say no, a story should have one primary climax tying all the loose ends together and resolving them by the end. Now, sub-plots can be resolves in mini-climaxes, but typically, the average novel is not long enough to support multiple sub-plots, and trying to follow and end them separately might distract from the main plot and peak climax.
     
  4. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll It's Coffee O'clock everywhere. Contributor

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    Gonna have to agree with the others.
    You can resolve two major plot points in a
    climax, but that still only counts as one climax
    overall. Best example (and super cliché) is the
    one where the protagonist wins the day over the
    antagonist and gets the guy/gal in the end.
    Bigger climax for sure, but still only a singular.
     
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  5. Lazaares

    Lazaares Contributor Contributor

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    Having multiple climaxes is a tool Hollywood loves to use in movies. There's two kinds: the fake climax, and the double-story version of it.

    The former is when you've got a climatic fight scene between the protagonist and the antagonist, the antagonist wins and the protagonist is presented with the fallout / consequences. Then, suddenly something happens that kicks the story back into action and you find yourself building up to another climax again. Every superhero movie ever made, basically. In certain scenarios, this "sudden change" might create a whole new & different conflict, with a vastly different approach and resolution.

    The second's a more complex one; a story where your main character(s) realise their actual purpose has been different during the resolution/falling action and a new thread (usually hinted prior) kicks in with rising action. A lot of times these double-story builds can be separated into two separate stories. Avatar (the movie with the blue alien folk, not the cartoon) is a splendid example; the first conflict is over the MC's convictions and the home tree - resolved through its climatic downfall and the MCs imprisonment. The moment they're in prison could be a cut & credits ending, continued by episode two starting at the prison break, with the new conflict "recovering & uniting the tribes, and the humans try to foil it".

    You can understand how only the 2nd version (double-story) has actual multiple climaxes, and how it's simply because it's not one story, but two stories bundled together into one overarching tale. Had the Harry Potter series been one book, you could argue that the only climax is the showdown with Voldemort in the last book. But alas, they are separately bundled and therefore each book has its own climatic scenes (I'M LOOKING AT YOU 7th MOVIE FOR HAVING NONE).
     
  6. HenWii

    HenWii Member

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    Thank you all for your answers. I thought about my stories climaxes and found out, the ultimate climax is when the protagonist faints by stress. The sex would be the climax of their romantic story but with the two persons having sex their relationship (issues) is just starting.

    Edit: If you need I can give small details on how I planned this story to be.
     
  7. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    I'm not sure how that can be a climax? The climax is when the main character finally succeeds against all odds and defeats the antagonist or the bad situation they've been struggling against. Or loses if it's that kind of story. But it should be through their own efforts, the result of their struggles and planning and effort. Passing out from stress sounds more like an inciting incident that kicks off the story, or maybe the protag's lowest point shortly before the climax, when it seems there's no way they can win and they almost give up or maybe do. It isn't the protag succeeding at anything, it's something random (and bad) happening to them.

    The climax would be when they finally defeat whatever forces were working against them and achieve their seemingly impossible goal.

    Is the book intended to kick off a series? If so I can see the end of the 1st book being the inciting incident for the entire series, but still it needs to have its own climax--a triumph, not a medical emergency.
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2021
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  8. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    Yeah, Cameron has practically specialized in the false ending. The first one I noticed (not by him) was in the movie Alien. It seems to be over when Ripley saves the cat (hah!) and they escape on the lifeboat as the Nostromo blows up. But little did they know the alien has snuck aboard the lifeboat as well!! So it had to come down to a much more personal confrontation between them.

    Then of course Cameron doubled down on it in Aliens. He did everything much bigger than it had been done in the original Alien, including the false or double ending, each with its own climax. And it worked the same way, they thought they had escaped after blowing up the entire processing plant, but lo and behold the Alien Queen had snuck into the landing gear compartment and escaped right along with them, kicking off the true ending and the second climax. Again it ended with Ripley using a piece of technology to confront the alien directly one-on-one and expel it into space.

    And of course both of his Terminator movies were built around a false ending and a double climax.
     
  9. Chromewriter

    Chromewriter Contributor Contributor

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    It's a climax of all the accumulation of stress being built up. Like a pressure cooker. Protagonist doesn't need to have agency for there to be a climax.

    I've seen this sort of formula being done plenty of times, but the first one on the top of my head is Bojack horseman which is a style of the director so they are good to check out. He goes through series of climaxes that is through chance or just inevitability. So if it's been established that stress is affecting the protagonist, then it is a climax when it leads to passing out.

    But you should not end solely on them passing out (though Cohen brother achieved it "Inside Lewyn Davis" through the cyclical and futile nature of their story). You have to go further. Doing this, the structure ends up being climax that leads to purposeful anticlimax; introspection of all the horrible shit the protagonist went through. Most stories cut the last snippet off and leave it on a high note, but the advantages of climax into anti-climax is the that it's bitter sweet.

    I just thought of another excellent example, these are 2 endings from different versions of count of monte cristo:
    Climax -


    Anticlimax-


    They both have different tones in the ending because the climax happens but the older version has a structure of the count letting people go, during the anticlimax, which fits in its story.

    Anyway this is an interesting topic overall.
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2021
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  10. NobodySpecial

    NobodySpecial Contributor Contributor

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    I’ll vote for yes and no. An individual story will not have two climaxes. However, and I’d really suggest waiting till you’re more skilled to attempt this, individual story lines can each have their own climax. So if you have a single story, with an ensemble cast, that follows two-three-even maybe four story lines, each story line can have it’s own climax.
     
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  11. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    There's also a sense in which each scene has a climax, but they're small ones, building up toward the big one near the end. In fact in a way each scene sort of has a story structure to it. Not completely, but similar. It's almost like a fractal thing. But stories don't always do this. It's a theory I read, probably in McKee's Story if I remember right.
     
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  12. HenWii

    HenWii Member

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    You're right with that. I forgot to mention, that the main protagonist has an epiphany while being in the hospital. She has a dream where she meets her 16 ear old self (important because she has a back story) and her 23 year old self, in that age she learned she wants to take the job she currently has. In that epiphany she learns that she was being to hard on herdelf, which leads her to her friend, who always was there for her and she starts building a life which fits her needs.
     
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  13. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    Ok, that's much better. Yes, an epiphany can definitely be a climax.
     
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  14. HenWii

    HenWii Member

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    Thanks a lot ! =)
     

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