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Dianne Salerni : Writer of Teen and Middle Grade Fiction | Heading into the Climax without (Much of) a Plan

Heading into the Climax without (Much of) a Plan


Say what now? No plan for the climax?

Yup. That’s me. Facing the climax of my WIP and wondering, “What’s going to happen?”

I know it makes me seem like the worst sort of pantster, progressing 5 months and 56k words into a story and still not knowing what’s supposed to happen in the climax. Believe me, I’ve been beating myself up over it for weeks. How can this story have any sort of cohesiveness if I don’t even know how the conflict will be resolved – or what form that resolution will take?

Luckily, I have the history of my other, published works to remind me that this is all part of the process and if I give myself the head space and time, I will work it out.

The climactic scenes of The Caged Graves came to me all at once in the shower one day, just as I was about to launch into a completely different climax that was, by comparison, lackluster and unsatisfying.

Entering the climax of The Eighth Day, I had no idea how the good guys were going to defeat the bad guys. They were out-manned, out-gunned, and about to be sacrificed at the top of a pyramid, for pity’s sake.

I expected the climax of The Inquisitor’s Mark to be an all-out, guns-blaring battle between Riley’s clan and the Dulacs. Instead, it turned into a battle of wits for the custody of Jax.

In The Morrigan’s Curse, I knew going into the climax that Jax, Dorian, and one of the bad guys would perform certain actions. But where this would happen, how to get them to that point, and what everyone else would be doing remained a mystery to me right up until I was writing it.

So, I guess it’s not so bad if the current plan for my WIP’s climax is: The Big Bad appears and wreaks havoc (of what kind, unknown). The protagonist learns something startling (this part, at least, I do know), and this ends up (somehow) being the key to defeating Big Bad.

I can work with that. Right?

20 Responses to Heading into the Climax without (Much of) a Plan

  1. mshatch says:

    I know you can and I can’t wait to read it!

  2. That’s great you have the experiences with your other books to give you the confidence to finish your new manuscript. Good luck!

  3. If that’s how you normally roll, then don’t stress. Obviously a great ending will present itself when you get there.
    Now, that wouldn’t work for me. I always know the ending first and work my way backwards to see how it all began.

  4. Hilary says:

    Hi Dianne – looks like you’ll turn to your answer … it will happen, or those parts will just come jogging along into the recesses of the waiting chapter and book … good luck and cheers Hilary

  5. Tiana Smith says:

    This is how it works for me too. I basically know, a lot of stuff happens that is bad, and they somehow work through it. LOL.

  6. J E Oneil says:

    Sure, why not? I’m sure you’ll figure out something if you keep ideas rolling around in your head. 🙂

  7. Chuck Robertson says:

    I’ve found that if you let your characters run free, they will come up with solutions on their own. All you need is to write down what they do.

  8. RO says:

    This is when one can really see the difference between a blogger and an author. There’s definitely so much more structure to get a manuscript started with a beginning, middle and end, and sticking with the goal of word a designated word count. I admire and appreciate your diligence for sure. Hugs…RO

  9. Anna says:

    With all that experience it will be easy-peasy. I want a dog just like yours. hehehe

    Anna from elements of emaginette

  10. Okay, I’m taking your words as hope. I did that same thing with my first full-length book. I wanted to the second to go smoother, so I’ve been trying to plan, and all it has done is impede me from writing. Cheers!

  11. Lol, you really don’t make it easy for your characters, or yourself, do you? At least your experience confirms everything will turn out good in the end. Good luck 🙂

  12. ChemistKen says:

    Wow! I’m glad you can work that way. In my case, I can’t even begin to write a story until I know how it ends, since I spend most of the story doing whatever needs to be done so that that ending can happen the way I want it to.

  13. Mina B. says:

    I have faith in you too. You’re dog is so too adorable. I bet he/she is a big help, huh?

  14. RO says:

    Just stopping by to say hello and happy weekend! Hugs…RO

  15. Lexa Cain says:

    It’s good that you trust yourself enough to know that something good will pop into your head soon. I’m sure it will be spectacular! I don’t have trouble with plot, but I need that special something that I can be passionate about writing. In Bloodwalker, it was the handbook and all Sylvie’s stories about dead people. (I loved writing those parts!) Now I’m trying to come up with something similar for Paris Underworld but nothing has come to me yet…

  16. I have every faith that you’ll find the perfect way to bring that story in! Let us know when that happens so we can celebrate.

  17. Keith Wynn says:

    I believe in you, my friend!!

  18. Oh, without a doubt, you can work with that. You’ve worked magic with your plots in the past, and you’ll do it again. We all have faith in you.

  19. RO says:

    Waiting for your next post and wishing you a wonderful weekend! Hugs…RO

  20. Yes, you can work with that. ^_^ I know what you mean about not entirely knowing how things are going to happen, though – I’m always at that point during my plotting, and it’s often frustrating that I don’t know what’s going to happen. I have plots I’ve stalled out on completely because I couldn’t figure them out. Hope you find your ending and it’s a good one.