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.