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Phy

How To Hook Readers With A Great Crisis

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Some of this is so obvious now that I've read it, but this is the first time I've read it.

 

Quote

 

THE CLIMAX OF THE STORY FOLLOWS A CRISIS SCENE

Most readers and viewers can identify where the climax of the story occurred—and we complain loudly when it is not strong enough. Perhaps the worst feedback to get of a story is that “It was anti-climactic.” The climax is the peak of the story that the whole audience has been reading for, the moment the author promised when they hooked them in. The moment Katniss volunteers as tribute in The Hunger Games, we know the climax will be when she is crowned victor in the Games. There’s a lot of ground to be laid in between, but we keep turning the page to get to that moment. It’s inevitable, but it must be surprising. The progressive complications must ramp up to an Ultimate Crisis Moment for Katniss that pays off with a twist on the expected climactic event.As the story ramps up, and we learn more about Katniss’s character, and as she forms a relationship with Peeta, the suspense is even greater. Now the moment is so much more costly, because not only must she kill to get there—she must go through Peeta to be the sole victor.

The climax of a scene, of a subplot, and of a story as a whole, is the outcome of the choice the character has made at a crossroads.

But identifying the crisis that led to that may be more obscure. Once it comes down to her and Peeta (regardless of whether their Love Story is genuine at this point or not) Katniss faces her true test: Will she kill Peeta, or will she lay down her life—or find another way? The progressive complications along the way have made a more intriguing crisis, leading to a more complicated climactic event. The climax is when she games the system, makes President Snow especially angry, and saves them both. Without this crisis, the climax would have been less surprising. Even though it abides the inevitability of the promise made in the beginning hook.

 

 

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"We go to stories to learn how to address the painful crossroads in our own lives, to experience how making small choices along the way changes our course of action. It’s the catharsis of consuming stories."

 

This is hard core teaching, and practical, with exercises.  Thanks for finding it for us, Phy. 

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1 hour ago, Christine Mitchell said:

Very interesting! Do the same kinds of rules apply to biographical writing? Autobiographies?

 

I would think not - biographical / autobiographical writing would seem to be constrained to the sequence of events in a person's life. I think these rules primarily pertain to fiction.

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1 hour ago, DrRita said:

Are you sure this isn't about screenwriting?

 

Great question. The examples they give started as novels and then also became screenplays. One presumes these tips work for writing novels and screenwriting.

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I think a lot of writers now use screenwriting methods for novel writing.  The format works for writing the longer works, just use more narrative and description to fill in the scene as it won't be shown on the big screen (to start with anyway.)

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