W – Winding Up the Climax

My A to Z Challenge theme is teaching you how not to write a book, or a short story, or any piece of creative writing whatsoever. For more information, including links to previous chapters and lessons, please refer to this post. Now buckle in and proceed with…



Billionaire Highlander cowboy Hawk MacHardcastle is tired of living the jetset life of champagne, bucking broncos, kilts, fast cars, and burning bundles of cash for warmth. Desperate to find meaning in his life, he retires to his family’s isolated cabin in the wilds of New Jersey, on the shores of majestic Lake Latrine.

There, Hawk plans on self-reflection and pursuing the great love of his life—fishing. However, Hawk’s self-imposed loneliness comes to an end when he makes a most unusual companion and fishing buddy.

Dropsy Velvet was once a young woman living on the shores of Lake Latrine with her settler family. However, a curse turned her into a mermaid and now she lives, sad and alone, in the depths of the lake. She hasn’t had human contact for close to fifty years, thanks to everyone either being terrified of her or thinking they’re drunk when they see her—but Hawk may be the connection to the world she’s been craving. Charmed by her innocent face, sparkling wit, and huge bare breasts, Hawk decides to help her find a way to lift the curse, as she will lift his: the curse of ennui and affluenza. But time is running out, for something sinister wants to flush Latrine away forever.

Winding Up the Climax

As the sun sank below the horizon, Hawk stood on the shore with a sword in one hand and a machine gun in the other. Dropsy bobbed in the lake, anxious and distraught. When the last sliver of sunlight slid below the edge of the world, the evil witch appeared on the sand in a pillar of flame. Hawk’s muscles rippled with anticipation. He had devised a plan the witch would never see coming.

The witch howled with laughter. “Puny human, you cannot defeat me with your silly weapons. I am Satan’s minion, and tonight I will impress him and finally get a raise. He doesn’t think I’m causing enough trouble up here so I’m going to send him this lake to fill his evil bathtub. And it will have a pretty bath toy in it.” She smiled cruelly at Dropsy.

Dropsy wept. “I don’t want to be Satan’s bath toy!”

“You won’t be.” Hawk dropped his weapons on the sand. “I may not be able to defeat you with human weapons you evil old hag, but there’s something you don’t know about me.” With that, he whipped out a vial of holy water. “I used to be a vampire hunter, too.”


Winding up the climax is oftentimes a lengthy process. The ultimate showdown could be building for chapters, or the entire book, really. The important thing is that the tension is slowly cranked up until it becomes almost unbearable for your reader, until surely something must happen, and whatever happens will decide the fate of all characters involved. The villain will be defeated, someone will die, things will be changed forever. These stones must be laid out on the path which leads the reader to the inevitable confrontation.

Hopefully, you’ve planted the seeds earlier that will need to bloom in the climax. Using a deus ex machina—your hero suddenly just happens to be a vampire hunter who has holy water on him—will make readers angry. They want to see a satisfying conclusion, not for fate to swoop in and take care of everyone’s problems. That’s a letdown. A good way to avoid this is to figure out before you start writing how things will be resolved—even if only vaguely—and write toward that. Drop clues along the way. You’ll have far less readers calling for your head.

Also, I apologize, as past this point I’m cheating with my letters. I’ll be using phrases instead of words until the end, and as you’ll see tomorrow, an entirely made up word.

Author: Megan Morgan

Paranormal and contemporary romance author.

15 thoughts

  1. In this case the deus ex machina is just funny, and completely in character. He would be anything and everything he needs to be. After all, he’s done everything, seen everything…that’s why he’s so bored with his life. 🙂


  2. Vampire hunter? I thought they were dealing with a witch? Yeah, that is a bad way to draw out the climax–confuse the reader. Once again, great way to make a point. (Now I don’t want to spoil things, but you aren’t going to end this by having Mac wake up and discover it was all a dream? Oh wait. Of course you are! That would be horrendous!)


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