It’s time to start setting things up for your book’s climax.
What? So early? Yup. The reader has passed the halfway point in your book, so you’ve gotten their attention. The climax of your informational nonfiction book is where they say to themselves, “Ah. I KNEW it was a good idea to read this!” It’s the moment where you call them to action, where you tell them what to do now that they know all the things you’ve taught them. It’s the payoff for the attention they’ve granted you. And you want to prepare them for it so it has maximum impact.
Obviously you’re not going to write the climax for a while. In informational nonfiction, you’ll probably include it in the final chapter of the book. But you can begin to prepare your readers for that moment now, by following a few simple guidelines:
1. More Energy
Finish delivering any background information in the first half of the book. Background info slows down the flow, and consequently drains energy from the reader. The second half of the book needs to build up their energy, so avoid lengthy info dumps.
2. More Applicability
Each chapter of your book should provide immediately applicable information to your readers, but that’s even more vital as you move toward the climax. You want to condition their brains to think, “Yes, I could do such-and-such right now.” This will help them feel more willing to follow your call to action in the climax.
3. More Excitement
It’s okay to be excited about your topic. The more passionate you are, the more passionate you allow your reader to be. Don’t stifle your enthusiasm in your writing; let it show! Build up that excitement level as you approach the finale, and you’ll prime your readers for a satisfying conclusion.
*This Week’s Word Count*
Your book is as long as: The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
Even though you won’t reach the climax of your book for quite a while, you probably have a scene in mind already. You know how it’s going to play out. Maybe you’ve already written it, and now you’re connecting the beginning and the end by writing the middle.
Whatever the case, your climb toward the climax starts now, and you need to maneuver all the pieces into place to make sure the big moment makes sense when it happens. Here are a few questions to ask yourself as you continue writing the middle of your book:
1. Where does everybody need to be?
Where do characters need to go in order to appear in the right places for the climax? Make sure you send them to those places prior to the climax itself. If they suddenly show up in the middle of the drama with no explanation, readers will feel annoyed by your deus ex machina twist. (If you’re writing in first person and the narrator wouldn’t know the movements of the other characters, you can ignore this in the book, but you yourself should still know where every character is at any given moment.)
2. Does everybody have a job?
You may have written a character at the beginning of the book who needed to perform a task, but who has nothing to do in the finale itself. If that’s the case, find them a job or send them off-page to do something else. Don’t allow random personnel to crowd the action of the climax by just standing around.
3. What needs to happen?
Make a list of the plot points that need to occur prior to the climax. Try to space them out between now and then, creating a steady build-up toward the moment of highest tension. This allows the reader to get pumped up for the climax instead of falling into it cold and missing out on the full experience.
4. What time of day is it?
Sometimes a scene will excite you so much that you don’t pay attention to the passing of time. If you have the protagonist start driving from Canada to Mexico at dusk, they won’t arrive the same night, or even the next day. So if you were planning a mid-afternoon scene upon their arrival, you need to work out the timing to accommodate that. Make sure the hours go by realistically during the action.
*This Week’s Word Count*
Your book is as long as: The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison