At our last jabber meeting, I posed the critical question: how do I build to a climax in my story and get a good ending? I had a good setup, interesting characters, a good beginning and a decent middle, but was faced with what looked like an anticlimactic ending. I had two sides that were nearing war; I wanted my heroine to stop war from happening, but this seemed to deflate the tension before it got to a good point. What should I do?
Fortunately, Meredith (talented writer and one of my former co-ML's from 2006) had a very good answer: have the consequence be something terrible: a key death or the apocalypse. Instantly, I could see it: one of the (misguided) characters who is trying to move his side to attack the kingdom of Chicago (long story--alternate history) discovers the magical secret to the Armageddon that destroyed Europe centuries before. My heroine can defuse the war but inadvertently and unknowingly push this other character closer to the edge... then, we can have the true climactic scene, the point of highest tension in the novel.
Everything fell into place; now all I have to do is go research some good names for my cast of characters ;-)
How about you? What are the climactic scenes in your novels? Do you have one identified?