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IV. STORY
 

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3. Climax & After

 
(ii) FINDING CONVERGENCES
 

The climax is where the story comes together. Various narrative strands and sub-stories show their mutual relevance and impact on one another.

Many of these convergences will have been planned when the novel was planned; others will emerge in the process of writing. When you’re letting sub-stories develop through the middle of the novel, it’s always a good idea to keep an eye open for potential connections.

My best example is my Wolf Kingdom books, a set of four short fantasies for kids. The overall story-arc tells how Tam and Nina join up with the Free Folk, an outlaw band that resists the tyranny of a Wolf-King who rules the land. A sub-story in Book 1 tells of a magic camouflage belt acquired by Tam. In Book 2, another sub-story tells of a magic metal-digesting bag acquired by Nina.

Gradually, the magic objects idea became an ongoing strand: so, a magic dagger for Chiz in Book 3. As for Book 4, well, I’d always intended to wrap up the quartet with the overthrow of the wolf-army. I’d expected that the magic objects would play a helpful role in the fighting.

Then I realised that a fourth magic object could play a far, far bigger role. The fourth magic object could be already in the possession of the Wolf-King, as the secret source of his power. So the overthrow of the wolf-army would depend on taking the magic object from him.

It was a connection I’d never expected, and it fitted in perfectly with what I’d already established about the wolves and their powers. Suddenly, the magic object sub-stories had a much more important reason for being there all along. From then on, I felt as if the story was truly looking after itself. It knew where it wanted to go, and I’d finally caught up with it!

Maybe that was a memorable case for me because I hadn’t been keeping my eye open and the realisation came so late. It confirmed what I’ve always believed, that the story is there and it’s my job to unearth it.

When I think of plot, I think of something that the author has constructed and manipulated; when I thing of story in a positive sense—and it always has a positive sense with me—I think of something that has its own shape and necessities. The author is simply its midwife!

OTHER CLIMAX & AFTER TOPICS

(i) THE DOWNHILL GLIDE

(iii) RUNNING OUT OF PUFF

(iv) WINDING DOWN

(v) CLOSURE VS SEQUELS

(vi) THE FINAL NOTE

(vii) BEGINNING AGAIN

Other Story Topics

1.Beginnings

2. Middles

4. Narrative Momentum

5. Pacing

 

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Richard Harland.