A Novel Approach to Multiple Climaxes by David Pereda

Ideally, a climax should be satisfying. The Webster College Dictionary defines climax with erudite authority as “the highest point” or “culmination.” In reality, based on my own empirical observation, a climax varies according to the characters involved, the situation, the point of view, the technique, the pace, and the progression. Some examples that come to mind – not necessarily all — are the “blow-your-socks climax,” the “hang-on-to-the chandelier climax,” the “sophisticated-cool climax,” the “wow-I-didn’t see-that-one-coming climax,” the “quiet-smile climax,” and the feared “that’s it? climax.”

I know what you’re thinking, but you’re wrong. Oh, what a prurient mind you have, my dear reader! I’m talking about novel climaxes, not real life climaxes. So, please, concentrate your wandering thoughts on literature. Let me put everything in perspective for you, so you understand what I mean.

The plot progression of the modern novel typically consists of a sympathetic character facing a life-changing problem, conflict, complications, climax and resolution. As the narrative progresses, the tension escalates through its complications until the novel reaches its climax, which is the moment when the basic conflict is resolved. Study any well-known novel written during the past hundred years, and you will see this pattern. In many of these works of fiction, the tension toward the climax escalates slowly and gradually, as appropriate to the pace of life of the times.

However, we are in the 21st Century, the age of instant gratification, where slow and gradual just won’t do. Everything moves much faster now. We are all in a hurry. We click on the TV remote surfing for a program to watch and give the image thirty seconds to seduce us, or else we click again and move on. We read the first paragraph of a novel at a bookstore, and if it doesn’t hook us right away, we put it back on the shelf and try another. A similar thing happens when we read a novel. We don’t want to waste our valuable time waiting for the climax to happen. We want it now! Worse yet, when it happens, we are often left with that nagging feeling of, “Is this all there is?” We want more.

So, I argue, why not have multiple climaxes in a novel?

My new thriller, Twin Powers, published by Second Wind Publishing and released in February at the Book’Em event in Lumberton, North Carolina, is an example of the multiple climaxes novel. It has four climaxes. Let me repeat that for you — not one, not two, not three — four climaxes. Each of the climaxes builds on the one before in an attempt to leave you, the reader, exhausted and fulfilled – and ready to take a break and go sip on a glass of Meursault or Medoc. I ask you, dear reader, isn’t that one of the premises of good writing that we authors should always try to achieve: to make you feel intensely and leave you satisfied?

Ah, did I pique your interest?

Here is the Amazon link to Twin Powers, so you can check it out: http://www.amazon.com/Twin-Powers-David-Pereda/dp/1630661112/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1425253277&sr=1-2&keywords=twin+powers.

I believe more and more authors will begin to write multiple climaxes in their novels to satisfy this current trend. I, for one, intend to continue making my thrillers climax-loaded and, hopefully, eminently satisfying to you, the reader. In the manuscript I’m working on right now, which I anticipate finishing and publishing this year, I’m considering outdoing myself and writing five different climaxes ranging from the “quiet-smile” to the “blow-your-socks” type.

I know it will be a challenge because my new work-in-progress centers on a thirteen year old nerdy girl who runs track — but doesn’t an enjoyable and fulfilling life consist, to a great extent, of meeting head on, and overcoming challenges?


David Pereda is the award-winning author of seven novels, dozens of articles and a handful of poems. His latest thriller, Twin Powers, published by Second Wind Publishing in February 2015, has received rave reviews. Visit www.davidpereda.com

1 Comment

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One response to “A Novel Approach to Multiple Climaxes by David Pereda

  1. Movies co-opted multiple climaxes a long time ago. Examples go back to the old serials (Nyoka, Queen of the Jungle; Flash Gordon; Secret Agent X-9; The Lone Ranger; etc., etc., etc.). Almost no modern action thiller is without one (The Jackal, Aliens, etc.). Typically, a bad guy/monster we thought had been done away with suddenly rouses and requires a second dispatching. The practice seems a little contrived for well crafted fiction – to me, at least. I guess I am old fashioned and subscribe to the concept of a “story arc.” Multiple climaxes would seem to require multiple story arcs – and that would seem to unnecessarily complicate – perhaps even corrupt – an otherwise laudable literary work. Just my two centavos.

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