Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Write A 'Roller Coaster' Novel

Murderous Climaxes and Thriller Endings.

If there’s one thing that annoys me more than anything else when I’m reading, it is the climax that flaps about like a fish out of water and then a ‘so what’ stupid ending. I feel particularly disgruntled when I have spent many hours patiently reading (page by page and sentence by sentence) a book that seemed to promise a breathtaking climax, only to find the writer chickened out and produced a  wet firework instead of an explosive high point.
Endings and climaxes are two different things, I do realise, but they should both produce a feeling of satisfaction if the reader is to feel the story was worth reading.  In thriller writing the climax is the point at which you should feel excited (thrilled) to finally be getting to the high point of the story and you can’t wait to see how it all comes out! Steadily working your way to a building climax could also be compared to an exciting ride at the fair, I think. The roller coaster builds tension as it appraoches the very top of the ride and then plunges downward to produce thrilling gasps from the passengers. It seems to me that reading a thriller should be somewhat like this? ( Or maybe you disagree...)
In thrillers, one of the best (and most used) climaxes is when someone’s life is threatened or someone is about to be killed and the hero finally succeeds and overcomes the threats - often in some kind of high octane action scene. Building up to this point in a proper believable way, however, needs to be appropriately handled according to the story.
The ending is somewhat down river of this high point but it too should produce a feeling of satisfaction that all has turned out as it should. The ending should also fulfil and answer the original story question posed at the beginning of the book. All loose ends need to be tied up at this point and the reader should know it is the end of the story. Not turning the last page to see if there is any more…
So are your scenes properly built up so the reader is thrilled/excited ( like the roller coaster reaching the precipice then dropping headlong down to the ending)? Do your endings reward the reader and give a sense of 'no unfinished' business?

Visit my website http://www.patricianewcombe.webnode.com/ for samples of my own thriller writing or download my latest book 'The Witcheye Gene' from amazon kindle.


  1. I read a lot...of everything, including thrillers. And I watch a lot of movies. And, naturally, I write. As writers we hear SO much about the importance of beginnings, the hook, capturing our reader's (including agents and editors) attention from the very first sentence.
    And, yeah, we all bemoan getting bogged down in saggy middles.

    But, I think the hardest part is a satisfying ending. I see more mistakes with endings...in books AND BIGTIME with movies/film. I've seen some movies that were excellent...until the climax and ending... when everything fell apart. Man, is it frustrating. To invest that much time in something, something that was working so well, and then have it fall apart into a mess or a too-fast, too-neat, cliched ending (after a solid beginning and middle), yeah, it's frustrating.

    It's like the writer/director just went: damn, I've/we've put a lot of energy into this thing, and yanno, now I'm tired and out of ideas and I've/we've kind of backed ourselves into this corner...so lets just deus ex machina this sucker and go have some drinks. Whatcha say?

    Anyway, my point is, I think endings can actually be the hardest part. A reader/audience has expectations by then of how they want things to work out. There's a lot of pressure on endings. But that doesn't mean the writer can take the easy way out. Thus, I feel you. :)

    Thanks for stopping by my blog.

  2. More than once I've turned a page, thinking there's more, and then had to go back and re-read because I thought I must have missed something.
    You're right, it spoils the whole book if the ending fizzles.

  3. Stephen King did the best ending in Duma Key. Just when you thought all the killing stopped...he killed off a beloved character in the epilogue.

  4. A wet firework---great analogy. I hate when that happens, makes it feel like the whole book was a waste. I almost always start my stories w/ the ending. That's what usually spurs me on to write the rest of it - because I want to get there.

  5. I too like the wet fireworks analogy. I've even WRITTEN those when I've been tired of writing by the time I get to the end, but later I have to go back and put the sizzle back in. ;o)

  6. Thanks everyone, for your insightful comments. I really do appreciate it.