HOW TO USE YOUR PREMISE TO IMPACT YOUR CLIMAX
The last post we talked about how to use the premise to impact the conflict. Now we want to use the premise to impact the climax.
What’s the difference? The conflict relates to your day-to-day activities, but your climax is your paycheck — the very reason you get up to go to work in the first place. What happens if one friday your boss comes to you and says: “Sorry, I can’t pay you this month”? That’s an easy question. I’d say, “Sorry, I can’t work for you this month.” Your climax should be the payoff to the conflict. And how is this made possible? Well, by your premise, of course!
I like scary movies — possibly to a fault. After I watch some of them, I have trouble sleeping. All for the thrill, right? Yeah…all for the thrill…. There’s one movie that I really enjoy because the premise is spelled out so clearly, but the execution of it is DYNAMITE!
The movie is called SAW. Now, I only like SAW I & II. The others are weak, but those two are pretty good…minus the terrible acting and awful lines. But the premise is so appealing that somehow I was able to get past all that.
“People should appreciate their lives,” is the premise. This psycho sicko finds people who hate their current circumstances, he crafts a torture scenario specific to the person, and then he makes them choose a maimed life or a gruesome death. *shutter* I get chills just thinking about it.
The last line of the movie is as follows: “Some people are so ungrateful to be alive. But not you. Not anymore. Game over!” SICK!
The premise is clearly defined here, and the climax happens when the person must choose the maimed life or the visceral death. But see how the premise dictactes the climax. Are you grateful? Do you want to live or die? The answer to that question is the climax.
So, here’s what we must do. Let’s look at our stories and first ask if we even have a premise. Then we must determine if that premise is the reason that the reader turns the page. Is the trail of the premise witnessed in every scene and in every decision that the character is making. If not, then unfortunately, that scene can be cut.
Premise: Too many people knowing magic can be destructive.
1. Powerful mage wants more power.
2. Powerful mage finds more power.
3. Powerful mage teaches others how to use power.
4. Powerful mage is no longer the most powerful.
5. Powerful mage visits his family in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
6. More “powerfuller” mage overthrows the kindgom.
WHOA! How did line five sneak in there? That has nothing to do with the chain of events. It was believable at first, but then…that dang mage visited his family in Tulsa. I’ll hear writers argue left and right about how it’s important for the mage to do “something” so that the story can progress, but here’s the fact: visiting his family doesn’t have anything to do with the premise, and it’s a detour.
Obviously this is a facetious example, but imposter scenes can sneak into your novel like little ninjas, and we have to be samurais to make sure we thwart the invasion.
Let’s be proactive about fighting against the scenes that take away from our otherwise great stories. We’re better than that, remember?