I spent far longer away from my novel than I had planned to but now I’m finally back on track to finish this thing once and for all. Funnily enough, I’m coming right back into it all at the climax of my story when the final battle is about to take place. I’ve always had a pretty good idea of how The Burning Ash was going to end, but looking at those ideas now shows that I’m going to have to experiment a little at the paths I take to write them down. There’s a strong chance the climax and denouement of my novel could be too melodramatic, there’s a strong chance it could fall flat, there’s also a strong chance that it can hit the right balance of excitement, joy, and heart-ache.
Last year I wrote a blog post about my Top 10 Video Game Finales and they are a pretty good indication of the types of endings I enjoy. They’re brilliantly epic, filled with some of the most amazing battles with outstanding pieces of music, and they strike a balance between the awe and terror at the power of the antagonist and the thrilling power trip of taking them on at your most powerful. They also often lead into denouements that are perhaps a little cheesy but which are still effective thanks to their sincerity.
Thinking of films, you’ve got the likes of Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children with its Sephiroth fight, Scott Pilgrim vs The World with the battle against Gideon Graves, the battle for Pride Rock in The Lion King, and even though they are hugely flawed (i.e. they make no sense, the climaxes of superhero films like Man of Steel, The Avengers, Deadpool, and even Suicide Squad are visual spectacles that I really quite enjoy. The most difficult thing I’ve found in working on this book is translating these big crazy battles into the written word. I’ll be able to see whether I achieved my goal when I finally get people giving it a read but I suspect it’s going to be one area I’m going to need to work on in editing.
So, what sort of decisions do I need to make? The first one is a matter of scale. Should this be a one-on-one fight at human scale (Like Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children or even the latest Final Fantasy XV)? Should this be a David-vs-Goliath battle against a gigantic monster (like Jubileus in Bayonetta or Jergingha in The Wonderful 101)? But then you get into the nitty-gritty like how hurt should my protagonist get in this battle? How long should it last? Is the battle won thanks to pure skill or is there what is in effect a Deus Ex Machina? How does someone physically fight another who is seemingly all-powerful? These are all questions to which there is no easy answer and ones there’s no way I can answer here without spoiling elements of my plot.
Still, I suppose the balance I’m trying to achieve is one between ludicrously fantastical sincerity and cynical realism. Perhaps it’s an impossible balance, but it perfectly sums up the way I see and enjoy things. I’m quite happy to criticise how unrealistic something is while at the same time loving it for those very reasons. The antagonist monologuing their evil plan is ridiculous and yet it’s great fun. The big final attack out of nowhere makes no sense but feels perfectly normal. My novel spends quite a lot of its run-time taking the mickey out of fantasy and gaming tropes while lovingly paying homage to them and so it’s only right that the climax fits into that space too.
When I sit down to write Chapter 39 I know I’m going to be sticking on a playlist of truly epic music to inspire me and I hope that in that moment the inspiration will strike. I’ve always been the type of writer who likes to start with a general idea of where I’m starting and where I’m ending with a few key events to occur throughout a chapter, but other than that, I let the words flow out as they come. In my head, I see it as the story writing itself and taking it wherever it needs to go. For better or worse, it’s gotten me this far so why give up on it now? The end of my novel is now within reach. Now’s the time to finish it once and for all.