The anticlimax. It’s important

One thing some writer’s miss is the falling action (termed anticlimax by some) after the main climax of a story.  Some people stop right at the climax or, worse, right before the climax, when it becomes obvious that the climax is going to happen (for example, in a romance as soon as it becomes clear the girl is going to say “yes”).

This can be a mistake.

One of my favorite anime series was Maison Ikkoku. After about 92 episodes of torment. The principles go round and round with each other, two steps forward, 1.999 back, and so on, they finally “get together” in episode 92. Then the next 4 episodes showcase the new relationship and tie up various minor loose ends from subplots. And when it is done, it is done. The everlovin’ end. No more to be said. This story is over.

Compare with another one I liked but found rather unsatisfying in its ending, Marmalade Boy. (Why, yes, I do have a liking for funny romance, emphasis on romance. Why do you ask?) The basic structure of this one is that the primary couple, after they get together, faces a series of every increasing “threats” to their relationship. They get past one only to face a bigger challenge later. And when the series ends, there’s no real “They’ve finally made it” in beating the latest (rather than “last” if you get the distinction) of a series of challenges. What’s almost embarrassing to watch is that the final denouement is a resolution for a secondary character, not the primaries. Perhaps that was “realistic” in that there are no guarantees in real life and anything short of ones death leaves the possibility that things could go bad. Still, it didn’t make for satisfying fiction, not for me. So a good series that I enjoyed right up until the end and then went . . . bleh.

The key difference here is that one took the time after the “climax” to establish the new situation, to show that, yes, the conflict had been resolved, that it wasn’t just another of the “two steps forward” to be quickly followed by “1.999 steps back.”  The other one lacked that.  And, so, the other one was a less satisfying ending for me as a watcher.

So don’t be afraid to take a little time after the main conflict is resolved to show that it has been resolved and to show the new situation that arises out of the resolution.  Don’t take too much, of course, but a little bit can pay big dividends in reader satisfaction.