WHY IS CLIMAX IMPORTANT  ?

              In my last blog , I had suggested that a climax in a novel is necessary because the novel is essentially a stylised abstraction of some perspective of real life.  Since this abstraction has certain narrative structure , it is an inherent requirement of the narrative to lead to the climax. In my last blog , I had pointed out that the tempo of the narrative and emotional surge characterize a climax.It must be kept in mind that it is possible to believe that a climax is necessary , but it does not explain why a climax is important. In this blog , I would discuss what is the importance of climax in a novel. It is the reasons for this importance of a climax  that tells us why some problems of creating a climax in any given novel are common to all novels and why some problems are specific to each novel. I would illustrate these reasons by citing my own experience while writing two novels.

           As I have mentioned , apart from the narrative requirements for a climax , there has to be an inherent need to have a climax. This need must be based on the content of the novel. In other words , each novel has its own thematic content which would decide what kind of climax can that novel end in. Therefore , now we have two factors that contribute to the nature of climax. Firstly , there is a narrative requirement of tempo and several subplots culminating into a climax. This is a generic feature because it would shape the climax, irrespective of the content of a novel. This essentially depends on the craftsmanship of a novelist.  Secondly  , there is a theme of a novel which provides a type of climax that such a novel can have. However, this is specific for each novel and therefore depends on the sensibility of a novelist.

              First , I would describe my own experience in writing the climax of my first novel. In that novel , the protagonist recollects his past. Therefore , I was forced to use climax arising from inherent tempo of the narrative as a separate climax and a thematic climax in terms of emotional closure separately. This was because the protagonist narrates his life including the his last moment before experiencing a nervous breakdown from the hospital bed. Therefore, the protagonist narrates that climactic moment of his nervous breakdown several weeks after it happened. However , it is while narrating that climactic moment that he achieves his emotional closure and therefore his thematic climax occurs in the final pages of his narrative. Thus my first novel had two different climaxes , one determined by the plot and another determined by the theme of the novel.

       When I began my second novel , I wanted to avoid this separate climaxes. However , as the novel progressed , I realized that it is not easy to do that. This difficulty arises because a novelist must learn to blend the protagonist’s thoughts with the episodes of the novel. A novelist can describe a character’s thought without any restrictions. However , the construction of episodes of the novel would have their own inherent logic. A novelist can control the thoughts of characters , but she /he has little  control over the plot because , as I have discussed in my previous blogs , the plot has its own momentum and structure. It is not possible to alter it to suit the protagonist’s thoughts. The irony is that the way a plot unfolds in a novel surprises not only the characters but also the novelist. A novelist , in that sense , is a passenger in this vehicle of her/his  novel , just as we all are in this vehicle of life. The only difference  is that the vehicles in both these cases , unlike the real vehicles , have minds of their own. The life , like a novel’s plot , has its own logic which is beyond our comprehension.  

     In my second novel , my problem is how to create episodes that appear as natural progression and  at the same time , they lead the protagonist to emotional closure. In addition , I have some problems with what kind of emotional closure should the protagonist have ? I am not sure , at least not yet , whether he would be convinced that his girlfriend has indeed reincarnated or whether it was his superstition that misled him. My problem is not really whether a reincarnation happened or not. My main concern is how the protagonist decides. This is because I think there are questions  in life which can not give us  yes or no answers. More importantly , these questions are not answerable. We , as mere mortals  , conjure up answers that comfort us. These answers are neither right nor wrong. They merely help us to live meaningfully. So, I am trying to conceive a climax that gives meaning to the protagonist’s life. Moreover , I am hoping to have a culmination of plot and emotional closure of the protagonist to be one and same. For that to happen , I would be required to invent a series of events which are metaphoric in content and yet inbuilt into the the plot itself. This is exactly what life is , it is natural and metaphoric at the same time. Nature , in its wisdom , can blend plot and the metaphor so seamlessly , a novelist has to struggle to get that blend correctly. At least I am.  

      In my next blog , I would discuss the importance of a twist in the climax.




          It is universally accepted that we live relatively faster life than that of previous generation. When we think of our parents , we conjure up an idyllic picture of easy paced life when we were growing up. Our belief in our comparatively faster life is further strengthened by our belief that modern technology has offered more options than those available in our parent’s life time. This is , by and large , true. However , we make mistake in thinking that earlier life was slow and therefore it was more tranquil. It is true that there were less options available to people in earlier generations. It is also true that people were less mobile in earlier times. However , it would be a category mistake to think that life earlier was less frenetic or less stressful. This mistake arises from the fact that we overlook how our mind works.

           It is not number of options available that decides the pace of life. It is our indecision to make choices that sets the pace of our lives. The human nature is such that it is equally burdened with decision making whether we are dealing with few options or hundreds of options. This may sound strange , but it is true. When we have large number of options , our mind picks up only the top few options while making a choice. Therefore , mind spends quite some time in making a choice and it doesn’t really matter how many options are available. Our mind is involved in constant conflict of making choices. Therefore, our sense of living a fast life mainly arises from this constant dilemma of making choices. It does not really matter technologically how advanced we are. What matters is how fast our choice making processes are. In that sense , every generation feels that it is living a fast life. We may find such assertions from our parents rather comic but from there mental perspective , this is a valid perception. It is more than certain that our children would find that we have lived in a slow paced life. Therefore , our external yardstick of measuring fast paced life is not in harmony with our internal perception of pace of life.

      In this blog , I would pick up this aspect of our perception. There are two aspects that I would discuss here. Firstly , I would discuss whether our personalities have altered because of fast pace of life or not. Secondly , I would describe my own difficulties in creating a plot that appears as a slow paced to the readers even when the characters feel that there is a constant rush in their lives. The beauty of fiction writing is that it allows a novelist  (and therefore readers ) to stretch a brief moment into eternity and a life long experience into a flitting moment. I would describe in this blog , how I sought to achieve a balance between the different paces of life say thirty years ago and our contemporary life.

          Let me tell you how difficult it was to have the protagonist of this novel to interact with two women in different phases of his life. His trouble is that he suspects that both women are in fact the same individual in two different births. The first woman was his girlfriend when he himself was young. The second woman is also a young but he is , by now , a sixty year old man. Therefore , he finds it difficult to adjust. Part of his mind tells him that he is an old man , whereas part of his mind tells him that this young woman is his girlfriend from the past. At some point in the novel  , he realises that it is his own mind that is playing tricks with him. What he remembered as his tranquil past of his girlfriend turns out to be a selective amnesia. The new woman makes him confront the reality and his own true self. At that point the protagonist realises that the life is always complex and fast. It is because we selectively remember the past that it appears to be smooth and slow.

           As a novelist  , I found it difficult to portray this deception in the protagonist’s mind. However , I accidentally found the answer to this difficulty. When I began narrating the protagonist’s younger days , I spent quite a few pages in creating the details of his background. However , as the plot developed , these very details became instruments of pushing the story further. The plot quickened on its own momentum. Since the novel is in a part flashback and part now frame of reference , this matched very well with the present fast paced life. However , the bottom line is this. The life is even paced. It is how our mind chooses and selectively remembers that gives us a false impression that our present life is faster than the  life a generation ago.

         Since my novel is nearing it’s climax , I would discuss in my next blog what kind of problems a novelist faces while creating a climax. I would also discuss whether and why should a novel have a climax.