#12. The fecal matter hits the fan.

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How bad does it have to get, in a novel, before all heck breaks loose? As you reach the climax of a book, the situation usually gets worse and worse. That’s called rising action. When the fecal matter actually hits the fan–when the protagonist’s conflicts have gotten as bad as they’re gonna get–that’s called the climax. After things start to get better, that’s called falling action–but that doesn’t usually happen until you’ve pretty much reached the end of the book.

So where are you in your novel? Are things starting to get exciting? Does the excitement seem to be building?

List five things that have happened in your book so far, that have been building excitement, creating rising action, toward the climax. End this post comment by predicting what will happen when your book’s rising action reaches the climax.

Here’s an example from Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island:

RISING ACTION:

  1. A captain showed up at the Admiral Benbow Inn, and he seemed to be worried that somebody might find him there.
  2. A pirate-like guy named Black Dog showed up at the Admiral Benbow Inn and got in a sword fight with the captain.
  3. The captain told Jim to go and get his friend, the doctor, if anything bad happened.
  4. The captain died.
  5. Jim found a bundle of papers wrapped in oilcloth at the bottom of the captain’s sea chest.

THE CLIMAX:

  • I predict that when this novel reaches its climax, the bundle of papers will turn out to be a treasure map, and a bunch of pirates will show up wanting their treasure.

Here’s a YouTube video about story structure that might help a lot:

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39 responses »

  1. I am reading Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
    1. Robinson Crusoe desides that he wants to travel the world
    2.this big storm
    3. Robinson Crusoe got stranded on a island
    4.hes been there for a verrry long time
    climax
    i predict that something good or its going to get better in a way that he can help survive on.

    • That’s not a climax. If things get better, it’s definitely not a climax. The climax happens when the very WORST POSSIBLE THING happens to the protagonist. That’s why my blog post is titled “The Fecal Matter Hits the Fan”.

  2. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
    This book has taken FOREVER to get to the goodish parts..
    Rising action:
    1.) the author starts to reveal to the readers that Mr. Darcy is attracted to Elizabeth much against his wishes.
    2.) Then Collins arive and it becomes more complicated.
    3.) Collins set his eyes on Elizabeth and wants to marry her.
    4.)And Elizabeth is in love with Wickham
    5.) So, Mr. Darcy is secretly in love with Elizabeth, Collins wants Elizabeth, and Elizabeth wants Wickham.

  3. I’m reading The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

    For this example, I’m going to use the mystery “A Scandal in Bohemia”.

    Rising Action;
    1.) When the king of Bohemia comes into Sherlock Holme’s office and tells him that he is to be married; however, a lady to which he has had a previous affair with has love letters from him, and a picture with the two of them, and he believes it will cause an issue. However, he is masked, and is going by a false name in order not to cause publicity.

    2.) The same night, as they talk about the photograph, the king confesses that he has hired men five times yet to steal the photograph from Ms. Adler; the woman he had an affair with. He says, “Five attempts have been made. Twice burglars in my pay have ransacked her house. Once we diverted her luggage when she travelled. Twice she has been waylaid. There has been no result.”

    3.) When the king asks Dr. Watson if he doesn’t mind breaking the law, and he tells him a plan of him visiting Ms. Adler and calling false alarm of fire; Watson gladly agrees, because she keeps the photo safe, because she values it most. That is where she will direct herself first if she believes her house is on fire.

    4.)When Watson is in Ms. Adler’s home, he calls the false alarm of fire. Irene instinctively goes to the place where the photograph is– between the sitting room and her bedroom wall.

    5.)When the king of Bohemia runs into Sherlock’s place the next day and they travel to recieve the letter, this is just before the climax.

    The Climax
    The climax is when they go to the house, and Sherlock doesn’t find the photo, but Ms. Adler gives him a letter in which goes to the king. It contains the photo and a short note to Sherlock, saying that he was very clever in the mystery and sneaky in finding the hiding spot.

    • Amy: the climax is the most EXCITING point in the story. Reading a letter–even though, yes it does have the photo in it–is not exciting enough to be the climax. From what you’ve said here, I’ve decided your item #4: Watson calls a false alarm of “Fire!” is the most exciting point, so that’s actually your climax. You’ll need to re-do this one for credit. Incidentally, #5 and what you’ve listed as the “climax” are actually falling action.

      • So you’re saying that the falling action #5 and my climax should be switched?

      • rising action = things build up excitement
        climax = the ultimate horror–things can’t get any worse than this!
        falling action = things start getting better–the mystery gets solved

      • REDO:

        I’m reading The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

        For this example, I’m going to use the mystery “A Scandal in Bohemia”.

        Rising Action;
        1.) When the king of Bohemia comes into Sherlock Holme’s office and tells him that he is to be married; however, a lady to which he has had a previous affair with has love letters from him, and a picture with the two of them, and he believes it will cause an issue. However, he is masked, and is going by a false name in order not to cause publicity problems.

        2.) The same night, as they talk about the photograph, the king confesses that he has hired men five times yet to steal the photograph from Ms. Adler; the woman he had an affair with. He says, “Five attempts have been made. Twice burglars in my pay have ransacked her house. Once we diverted her luggage when she travelled. Twice she has been waylaid. There has been no result.”

        3.) When they go to the house, and Sherlock doesn’t find the photo, but Ms. Adler gives him a letter in which goes to the king. It contains the photo and a short note to Sherlock, saying that he was very clever in the mystery and sneaky in finding the hiding spot.(This is actually after the scheme with Watson with the false alarm of fire, if you were confused, these are out of order.)

        4.)When Sherlock is reading the note(mentioned in rising action number three).

        5.) When the king asks Dr. Watson if he doesn’t mind breaking the law, telling Watson the plan before they go to her house to call the false alarm of fire.

        The climax is when Watson actually visits Irene and does call the false alarm of fire.

  4. my book is Tarzan of the Apes by edgar rice burroughs

    Q:in the book what is the worst point and why?

    A:in the book when kala Tarzans gorilla mom dies from a black person killing her with a poisonous spear thats the climax and because she was all he had left

  5. A Christmas Carol BY Charles Dickens

    RISING ACTION

    1. Scrooge has lost his partner at the shop Marley.
    2.Scrooge has had bad times with it being Christmas.
    3.He has been frightened by the ghost of Christmas past (which happens to be Marley) showing him the things he has been doing wrong about Christmas.
    4.That’s not all for the ghosts he has had the ghost of the present and is kinda getting used to strange things happening.
    5.Then he is upset by the things that had happened to him when he will grow old that the ghost from the future.

    CLIMAX

    ♪ The worst part i think is when he is brought to the future because he feels so bad about everything that he has done and it cant get any better unless he changes the way he acts to people.

  6. 1.Horace kills himself
    2.William kills himself
    3.Frankie spills beer on a lady accidentally
    4.Gay and his friends get the truck From Lee Chong to use for their trip
    5.Doc goes downstairs and hears Frankie crying but he can’t do anything to help him
    I think Frankie will in the end turn out all right and he will be happy. I think that the climax will be there will be problems that will be ran into by Gay and his friends on the trip

    • 1.Horace kills himself
      2.William kills himself
      3.Frankie spills beer on a lady accidentally
      4.Gay and his friends get the truck From Lee Chong to use for their trip
      5.Doc goes downstairs and hears Frankie crying but he can’t do anything to help him
      I think
      I think that climax will be them getting trapped and being attacked by an animal on the trip and some of them will die

  7. here is the fixed one…

    RiSiNg AcTiOn;
    1. Jane leaves Lowood boarding school and finds a job as a governess.
    2. While walking down the hall she hears someone laughing but doesn’t know who.
    3. Mr. Rochester comes home and has a secret interest in Jane.
    4. Mr. Rochester tells Jane about her pupil, Adele being his illegitimate daughter.
    5. While Jane is trying to sleep she hears something as if fingers were brushing the panels of her chamber door.
    6. She hears a strange cackle and the sound of steps climbing the stairs to the third floor.
    ThE cLiMaX;
    ***I predict that when this novel reaches its climax Jane will find out what or who is making the strange laugh and what ever it is will be evil and start to attack her. Maybe it will be a spirit of some sort….

  8. A Christmas Carol BY Charles Dickens

    RISING ACTION

    1. Scrooge has lost his partner at the shop Marley.
    2.Scrooge has had bad times with it being Christmas.
    3.He has been frightened by the ghost of Christmas past (which happens to be Marley) showing him the things he has been doing wrong about Christmas.
    4.That’s not all for the ghosts he has had the ghost of the present and is kinda getting used to strange things happening.
    5.Then he is upset by the things that had happened to him when he will grow old that the ghost from the future.

    CLIMAX

    ♪ I predict that things are going to get better from here because it sounds like it going to be the end of the rising action.

  9. A Christmas Carol BY Charles Dickens

    RISING ACTION
    1. Scrooge has lost his partner at the shop Marley.
    2.Scrooge has had bad times with it being Christmas.
    3.He has been frightened by the ghost of Christmas past (which happens to be Marley) showing him the things he has been doing wrong about Christmas.
    4.That’s not all for the ghosts he has had the ghost of the present and is kinda getting used to strange things happening.
    5.Then he is upset by the things that had happened to him when he will grow old that the ghost from the future.

    • this is a mess up i did not put the prediction on it so can you delete this i will have a second one done thank you!!

  10. RiSiNg AcTiOn;
    1. Jane leaves Lowood boarding school and finds a job as a governess.
    2. While walking down the hall she hears someone laughing but doesn’t know who.
    3. Mr. Rochester comes home and has a secret interest in Jane.
    4. Mr. Rochester tells Jane about her pupil, Adele being his illegitimate daughter.
    5. While Jane is trying to sleep she hears something as if fingers were brushing the panels of her chamber door.
    6. She hears a strange cackle and the sound of steps climbing the stairs to the third floor.
    ThE cLiMaX;
    ***I predict that when this novel reaches its climax Jane will find out what or who is making the strange laugh, and Mr. Rochester and Jane will fall in love.

  11. Othello by Julius Lester

    RISING ACTION:
    1. Othello and Desdemona fall in love.
    2. Desdemona decides to wear a black low-cut dress to the Great Hall.
    3. Othello promoted Michael to lieutenant instead of Iago.
    4. Iago is disappointed and decides he wants to get revenge on Othello.
    5. Iago becomes VERY jealous of Othello because Desdemona loves Othello and not him.

    THE CLIMAX:
    • I predict that when this novel reaches its climax, Iago will end up either killing Othello or himself, because the love of his life does not love him back, and because she loves Othello, which he is already mad at for promoting Michael to lieutenant and not him.

  12. Around the world in 80 days

    1. Philleas Fogg meets his new servant in a meeting
    2. Philleas Fogg meets his new servant and it apperes to be a French man
    3. Philleas Fogg and his new servant go meet Mr. Foggs friends at the club
    4. Philleas Fogg and friends get in argument about the distance around the world
    5. Philleas Fogg makes a deal that he can travel around the world in 80 days or less

    The Climax:
    I predicted that Mr. Philleas Fogg would bet his friends that he would make it around the world in 80 days or less.

    • You don’t think he’ll run into any trouble during his travels? The worst thing that could happen to him is making a bet? That can’t be the ultimate MOST EXCITING THING IN THE WHOLE BOOK, could it? The climax is the most exciting point in the book. Captured by head-hunters? That might be a more exciting climax than making a bet, don’t you think? Can you think of something along those lines–something truly horrific? What’s the WORST possible thing that could happen to Mr. Fogg? That would be the climax.

    • Around the world in 80 days

      1. Philleas Fogg meets his new servant in a meeting
      2. Philleas Fogg meets his new servant and it apperes to be a French man
      3. Philleas Fogg and his new servant go meet Mr. Foggs friends at the club
      4. Philleas Fogg and friends get in argument about the distance around the world
      5. Philleas Fogg makes a deal that he can travel around the world in 80 days or less

      The Climax:
      I predicted that Mr. Philleas Fogg would bet his friends that he would make it around the world in 80 days or less. He’ll probably run into bad weather and crash on some island and meet up with some pirates and the pirates will take him prisoner and through him on a land there he’ll probably go out and face wild animals and bloodthirsty hunters that will take him to their camp and eat him.

  13. TO KILL A MOCKING BIRD by Harper Lee.

    1.The interactions with the Cunninghams.
    2.The kids trying to get Mr.Radley to come out of his house.
    3.Kids almost got shot by Mr.Radley.
    4.Jem’s tousers mysteriously got untied from a gate and was folded neatly the next day.
    5.Two bars of soap that was carved into a boy and a girl, which looked like Scout and Jem was left in a knot-hole, and later a pack of bubble was left their, then Mr. Radley cemented that knot-hole.

    This book is very mysterious but interesting. I’m still predicting that Mr.Radley is going to need help from Atticus…

  14. Island Of The Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell
    Rising action
    1.Karana gets left on the island with her brother.
    2.Her brother dies.
    3.She has to survive on the island all by herself.
    4.Wild dogs try and kill Karana.
    5.She has to find a safer place to stay.
    Climax
    The worst thing that could happen to her is if she never got to see her tribe agian.

  15. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

    1.Tom skips class.
    2.Tom tricks aunt and runs away.
    3.Tom finally gets cought.
    4.Tom tricks friend into doing his work.
    5.Tom acts as if nothing happens and gets away with it.

    In my book there are many stories told so the Climax is that Tom gets out of work and acts as if nothing happened. His aunt then rewards him by letting him go and play.

    • Redo) I got Climax and Resolution mixed up. So, the Climax of Tom is him getting beaten and having scars. Also in the future as an adult he could get caught doing something bad but end up in prison or jail.

  16. RISING ACTION:
    1. Jane leaves Lowood boarding school and finds a job as a governess.
    2. While walking down the hall she hears someone laughing but doesn’t know who.
    3. Mr. Rochester comes home and has a secret interest in Jane.
    4. Mr. Rochester tells Jane about her pupil, Adele, being his illegitimate daughter.
    5. While Jane is trying to sleep she hears something as if fingers were brushing the panels of her chamber door.
    6. She hears a strange cackle and the sound of steps climbing the stairs to the third floor.
    THE CLIMAX:
     I predict that when this novel reaches its climax, Jane will find out what or who is making the strange laugh, and Mr. Rochester and Jane will fall in love.

    • Your climax is not done correctly. What you’ve described here is the resolution, not the climax. The climax is the ULTIMATE BAD. What you’ve described is a solution to the ultimate bad. It’s the resolution to the problems.

      Please submit the climax portion, only. Submit it as a reply to your own post comment. Thanks.

    • RISING ACTION:
      1. Jane leaves Lowood boarding school and finds a job as a governess.
      2. While walking down the hall she hears someone laughing but doesn’t know who.
      3. Mr. Rochester comes home and has a secret interest in Jane.
      4. Mr. Rochester tells Jane about her pupil, Adele, being his illegitimate daughter.
      5. While Jane is trying to sleep she hears something as if fingers were brushing the panels of her chamber door.
      6. She hears a strange cackle and the sound of steps climbing the stairs to the third floor.
      THE CLIMAX:
       I predict that when this novel reaches its climax, Jane will fall in love with Mr. Rochester but them something terrible with happen between them and she will leave.

  17. RISING ACTION:
    1. Buck was captured by to people that were trying to get good dogs to for a sled dog team.
    2. Buck was working hard no matter how sore he was he kept working until he was told to stop for the day.
    3. Buck got in a fight with the leader of the team Spitz
    4. Buck killed spitz and returned as the leader of the team
    5. There Buck continued to shape and led the team into obedient and strong working dog. If they got a new dog added to the team he would quickly let him know that he wasn’t pulling his weight around the team and they quickly obeyed.
    6.Camp was attacked by wild dogs from the nearby Indian reservation leaving the team wounded and nearly out of food
    7.Buck continued to shape and lead the team into obedient and strong working dog. If they got a new dog added to the team he would quickly let him know that he wasn’t pulling his weight around the team and they quickly obeyed.
    8.Buck nearly died from starvation and was rescued by John Thorton who helps him get his strength back and buck finally decided to live with him.
    THE CLIMAX:
    • I predict that when this novel reaches its climax, something bad will happen to John Thorton and Buck will get his revenge or he will go to a new master, or live off the wild land around him.

  18. Roots by Alex Haley
    1.Kunta has been placed at a new plantation that has no one that he knows on it.
    2.Kunta plans an escape to run away and be free.
    3.Kunta gets up in the middle of the night and takes off towards the woods.
    4.Kunta is getting very tired and can’t run much further so he stops and forgets his only weapon for defending himself.
    5.Kunta hears the dogs getting closer and since he left his only weapon behind he grabs a rock in his left hand and a long clubbed stick in the other.
    6.The toubob come and the dogs tear and rip at Kunta until the toubob call them off.
    7.The toubob are furious and decide to punish Kunta by cutting off Kunta’s right foot.
    8.CLIMAX: When Kunta comes to America on the slave ship is when the climax is at its highest.

  19. RISING ACTION:
    1. Their ship crashes between two rocks and they are trapped.
    2. The Jackals attack their Tent House in the night.
    3. When the sharks attacked their animals in the water.
    4. When they found a giant fig tree to live in.
    5. When they find the pinnace (a small ship for sailing) in the ship and start to assemble it.
    THE CLIMAX:
    • I predict that when this novel reaches its climax, there will be a storm that destroys everything they have and they will have to start all over.

  20. The Red Pony By John Steinbeck

    RISING ACTION:
    1.Jody is given a horse.
    2.Jody leaves his horse outside and it rains.
    3.The horse gets sick.
    4.The horse ran away.
    5.They had to cut open a lump in the pony’s neck and yellow puss stuff came out!!!!!!

    THE CLIMAX:
    •I predict that when this novel reaches its climax, the pony will never get better and will die.

  21. Where the Red Fern Grows. Wilson Rawls

    Yes the excitement in my book is defiantly building and it is getting much more interesting to read.

    1. Billy saves up enough money to buy two hound dogs.

    2. He sneaks into town to get the puppies without his family knowing where he is.

    3. When he gets back he starts training his puppies to be good hunting hounds.

    4. He takes the puppies hunting and gets into a lot of predicaments.

    5. One of his dogs gets trapped in the river and Billy thinks she is going to die.

    I think that by the climax in the story something bad will have happened to either one of the dogs or both. Billy will be very sad and hopefully things get better.

  22. Isalnd Of The Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell
    The rising action
    1.Karana gets left on the island with her brother.
    2.Her brother dies.
    3.She has to try and survive on the island all by herself.
    4.She has to find a safer place to stay because her tribe is gone.
    5.Wild dogs try to kill Karana.
    The climax
    I predict that she will befriend the dogs and get to the country where her tribe is.

    • Morgan: What you’ve listed under “climax” is a prediciton of the book’s RESOLUTION, not its climax. The climax is the point where a lot of bad stuff has happened–so much bad stuff, that it doesn’t seem like it will ever get better.

      Please re-do this one correctly, for the points. Thanks.

  23. The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

    My book hasn’t gotten anywhere, and I’m disappointed that I’ve picked this one. It’s REALLY stupid. Nothing has happened, and I”m on page 100.

    5 things that have happened:

    1. They have a party for the aniversary of the watch shop.
    2. The Germans bombed the airport.
    3. Corrie talks about having a stupid hat that she couldn’t wear when she was 6???
    4. She takes in some Jews and sends them to farms.
    5. Her nephew was put in prison.

    The back pretty much tells the end of the book. Her father, her sister, and her are captured and sent to concentration camps. They both die and she’s set free.

  24. 1. Mr. Martin proposed to Harriet.
    2. Emma told Harriet to reject Mr. Martin.
    3. Mr. Knightly got all mad at Emma for interfering.
    4. Emma and Mr. Knightly got in an argument about it.
    5. Now Mr. Elton seems to be crushing on Emma instead of Harriet, messing up Emma’s plans for Harriet’s future.

    CLIMAX
    I’m only on page 88, and there’s like 300 pages. So I’m probably not at the climax at all. But I think the worst thing that could happen is for Emma to mess up all of Harriet’s hopes for ever getting married to anybody, Mr. Martin, Mr. Elton, or anyone else. That would be AS BAD AS IT GETS.

    Question: What is fecal matter?

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