Prepared by: Patricia Johnson
Posted on: Sun, 12 Aug 2001
The climax of a story is the key event or
crisis dealing with the
central conflict of the story. After the crisis, there is a decline in
the story's action which moves toward resolution. This may be called
the anticlimax, or aftermath. Like a wrap-up, this aftermath explains
loose ends of the story. It gives a sense of resolution and closure.
Story details are put in order, concerns are addressed. The aftermath
winds the story down and finalizes it. It addresses what happens to
main characters after the climax. It may hint at what characters may do
next. It can use an image, a thought, or an action to end the story.
An aftermath sometimes asks new questions.
The aftermath may reflect back on the
story. It gives a last
of the book and solidifies the theme.
In Charles Frazier's book, Cold Mountain,
a Confederate soldier
Inman deserts after being wounded, and walks home through the Blue
Mountains. The climax is Inman's death when he is almost home, in the
arms of his lover, Ada. The aftermath, which Frazier wrote as an
epilogue, shows Ada home safe on her farm, she is now a mother to his
child who he will never know. We see Ada with her family around a fire
where the children are dancing. Ada is reading a book about Baucis and
Philemon. Everyone is safe and well. Here is the last paragraph:
"When Ada reached the story's conclusion,
and the old lovers after
years together in peace and harmony had turned to oak and linden, it
full dark. The night was growing cool, and Ada put the book away. A
crescent moon stood close upon Venus in the sky. The children were
sleepy, and morning would dawn as early and demanding as always. Time
to go inside and cover up the coals and pull in the latchstring."
We see that the family has gone on since
Inman died, that their
are demanding. There is also a sense of loss, their lives would be
fuller if Inman had lived. We sense how his absence is felt by the main
characters, especially Ada. They are safe on their farm, assured that
tomorrow will bring more work. They have time to celebrate around a
fire at the end of the day. The reader knows Ada has time to read and
imagine in her life. Perhaps we can even imagine and speculate as to
the future of Ada and her child.
Exercise: Write a brief climax to a story.
Follow the climax with an
aftermath. You may want to rewrite an aftermath to a well-know literary
work, or you may want to write your own story climax and aftermath.
Remember to make the climax brief, and concentrate on the aftermath.
Keep the exercise word count to 300 words or less.
Patricia Johnson's wrap-up
Posted on: Sat, 18 Aug 2001
This week's submissions on aftermath
revealed the use of several
techniques. Some of the techniques used were dialogue, asking
memories, and flashbacks. Epilogues were used as a technique as were
division marks on the page - such as an extra line space or a solid
across the page. It is interesting to note that when dialogue was used,
the climax and aftermath were easily revealed at the beginning of a
In general, the transitions from climax to
aftermath were smooth.
the submissions had the climax and the aftermath interwoven instead of
separate. This was accomplished through the use of memories and
Sometimes more of the climax was revealed which took more of the
allotted word count. One writer mentioned that it was difficult to
the climax in such a brief word count.
The subject matter varied; it seemed the
subject did not restrict
ability to write a summarized climax and aftermath. The submissions
succeeded very well in defining the aftermath. Thanks to everyone who
participated and made this exercise a success.
Web site created by
Rhéal Nadeau and
the administrators of the Internet Writing Workshop.
Modified by Gayle Surrette.