The Bridge to a Story’s Climax – The Crisis
The hero has gone through stasis, an inciting incident, and the back and forth of their journey. Now we are getting toward the resolution.
Before the climax and resolution of this story, the hero hits a moment of crisis. Even in connection, and stories between friends, this is an obligatory moment. It is the moment when the hero must make a decision or a move – and must decide what that is going to be.
Often, in movies, this is also the moment when the hero “breaks up” with their supporting character – the best friend who is telling them the right thing to do, but the hero doesn’t listen. Why? Because they aren’t a hero if they don’t learn it for themselves.
In his book Story, screenwriting guru Robert McKee describes the crisis like this: ‘An emotional momentum has built to this point, but the crisis dams its flow. As the protagonist goes through this decision, the audience leans in, wondering “What’s he going to do?”’
We often think of the climax of a story as an explosion or a big moment. But a woman walking out the door with a suitcase against the wishes of her abusive husband can be a very effective climax. At this point, the hero has made the decision to move forward, and will now either make it to the other side in a negative way (I will pay more than $1000 to get my car fixed) or a positive way (I might break even).
This then leads them to the Resolution, where the character gets back to a new stasis – a new normal and (potentially) a new learning. (Again, often in movies the resolution comes with a re-connection with their supporting character/best friend.)
So now that you know the elements of a story, how does my car story end?