Carnegie Blog 6: Climax

Well, I’ve just written my climax. Not, you understand, my ending; I still have three small chapters to go. But I’ve written the moment of climax, the point where the ‘rising action’ of the story peaks, and only the ‘falling action’, the mopping-up, remains.

And if that all sounded disgustingly phallic, well, that’s literature for you.


The climax climaxes, as many climaxes do, with a gunshot.

The word count as it stands is 34,842. Which means one thing at least; I’ve done it. I could take two more minutes to write a 150-word concluding paragraph, then type ‘and then that was the end of all that’, and I’d have written a 35,001 word story in a six-week period. So it’s nice to have that out of the way.

One thing which I find myself noticing in this time-trial of a writing exercise is that the further in I got, the less I found myself thinking about writing style; instead, the things dominating my mind were plot mechanics. What happens, and how, and how that affects what happens next. The reason for this is a compromise between two external forces.

Firstly, the more that it written, the more precedent there is to write from. Every time I pick up my netbook to write a section, I start by re-reading the previous two or three pages, possibly making minor edits as I go, and then just continuing the story by typing it when I reach the end of what is already written. I’m like Gromit on the train: I hurl myself onto it as it hurtles along the track, and when I run out of track I lay down more in front. This means that I have a chance to slip back into the narrative voice, its style and quirks, and don’t have to build it from scratch. This is the ‘good’ reason.

The ‘easy’ reason, on the other hand, is that the closer I get to deadline – and so the more I find myself thinking about needing to get a certain amount done per day – is that I naturally pull the style back to something I can write rapidly. My most natural narrative voice, or at least the most natural voice for me to tell this particular story in.

This doesn’t worry me hugely per se – it might under other circumstances, but in this strange lab experiment is is a natural development. What does worry me is that it might mean there’s a major stylistic discrepancy between the opening section of the book where I was perhaps more stylistically experimental, and these closing sections where I still experiment, but more in the sense of going-with-impulse-ideas than meticulously constructing any deliberate nonsense with form or PoV.

A passing concern, of course: it’s the sort of thing which I can address when I come to edit this book at my own leisure. For now, I have to write out those post-climax sections, where the results of that final gunshot are played out, and the echoes of the retort echo their way to silence.

2 thoughts on “Carnegie Blog 6: Climax

  1. Just to say, this has been very interesting to read, especially the blog about plotting/character. I’d be curious to know how you manage the speaking voices in the 1822 section – are you going for antiquarian pastiche or something more unusual?

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