Story Structure

How To Write The Best Climax Scene for Your Story

Hey guys, I’m sure you all have heard screenwriters talking about the Climax. Well, that’s because the Climax is the most expected turning point from the audience. It’s the scene we’re patiently waiting to see through the entire movie.
So what exactly is Climax? How can we locate it in movies? And… how can we write Climax in our own stories?

Probably by now you understand that the Climax is the most important turning point in Act 3.

Climax in Greek means ladder

Let’s see first what is the meaning of the word:

According to the merriam-webster dictionary climax is “the highest point” of something, the culmination.
If we take into account that the origin of the word Climax comes from a Greek word which means ladder or staircase, it makes absolutely sense.

So, think of your screenplay as a ladder that your protagonists are trying to climb, step by step. Sometimes they might slip back a step or two, but they’re always coming back and continue climbing, until they reach the top of the ladder.

And that’s the climax in your story.

The Climax comes with many names, such as:

  1. The Final Culmination
  2. The Endgame
  3. The Great Confrontation
  4. The Showdown (according to David Trottier’s screenwriting book)
  5. or (how I prefer to call it sometimes) The Big Fight

The Main Characteristics of Climax

  1. In Climax our interest is at its highest point. This is the scene that everyone expects from the beginning of the story. It is the moment where tension is at the highest point and the conflict has escalated at its peak.
  2. Here, it’s where most of the times the protagonist meets the antagonist and have a clear, blunt confrontation. It’s the final fight the protagonist has to give against the antagonist IN PERSON.
  3. Alternatively, here is the moment where our protagonist faces the biggest obstacle in the story which it will determine her/his fate. (Most of the times this obstacle is coming from the antagonist).
  4. All other characters aren’t so important in this scene. Only the protagonist and the antagonist are actually acting.
  5. After this sequence of scenes ends, there is no actual story left to be told. The protagonist either wins or loses. It is the last card that the protagonist has to play and he must play it right.
  6. The Climax sequence is followed by the results, the resolution and the epilogue of the story.

So according to screenwriter David Trottier the climax «is the final face-off between your central character and the opposition.»

Term Confusion

As we’ve also seen in other episodes, there are many terms used for each plot point and sometimes this kind of naming leads to a lot of confusion.
For example, Robert Mc Kee in his book Story, he calls the confrontation between the protagonist and the antagonist Crisis. And only the end of this Crisis sequence, the final action of this confrontation he calls it the climax.
BUT David Trottier in his book “The Screenwriter’s Bible” uses the word Crisis for the Low Point and the word Climax for the entire sequence of confrontation.

That’s why if you want to avoid such kind of misunderstandings when talking with your fellow screenwriters, just use a more straightforward term like “The Big Fight” or “The Great Confrontation,” to make sure that you know exactly what you’re talking about.


  1. Go to Act 3. Climax is always in Act 3. If you’re not in Act 3, it’s not (or it shouldn’t be) Climax. If you don’t remember how to find the beginning of Act 3, there’s another post on this that I explain it thoroughly.
  2. Find the scene where the protagonist is fighting against the antagonist. In the case of a romantic comedy, that would be the final confrontation between the couple. There’s the Climax.

The climax sequence is where you get to shine as a screenwriter. Here you need to put all your efforts and to write the best scene of your entire screenplay. Up to this point there has been no scene as intense as this one, the climax scene.

Let’s see some examples of “The Big Fight”

In the film Speed the climax scene is where the hero battles the murderer on the train's roof
  • Between a cop and a murderer, the final confrontation usually includes a lot of shooting and car speeding, but in the end of the sequence one of them loses and the other one wins.
The climax scene in Jaws is where the hero fights against the monster
  • When the greatest opponent is a creature or an element of nature then in the Climax you should put your protagonist against this monster, just like we can see in Jaws with the shark or in Jurassic Park with dinosaurs.
Climax scene in Karate Kid, Daniel, the protagonist, in a big fight against Johnny, the antagonist
  • If your protagonist is let’s say a chess player or a golf player or a basketball player then the “big fight” is usually the final game in which he’s usually playing against his greatest opponent.
    In a love story, it is usually the final love confession that one makes to the other in order to win her or him back. For ever and ever.
The Climax scene in a romantic comedy like When Harry met Sally is where the couple open their hearts and confront each other
  • In a romantic comedy, the two lovers are both the protagonist and the antagonist. Here is where one of them opens his or her heart and speaks the truth and expresses all of the emotions he/she used to fear to express up until now and after that, he/she waits for the other person to process all of this and to give an answer. So, even when lovers are concerned, we can feel the confrontation between them, we can feel that the stakes are at their highest, we can feel the climax. In a sense, this is also a kind of a “big fight” between them.

You can also watch the relevant episode about Climax and how to find it:

I hope you enjoy it!


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