Typically a main character has tried everything they could think of to solve the story problem, and as we reach the crisis point, none of it has really worked, and the problem seems worse than ever. They are out of ideas, and seemingly out of options. This typically takes place at the end of the second-to-last act of any show, before the final commercial break.
Though there is generally some fresh idea, opportunity or situation in the final act where they will have one last chance to confront the story problem, once and for all, that new possibility, in and of itself, is not enough to guarantee a successful conclusion. Far from it. In fact, main characters still tend to struggle and experience setbacks as they begin to engage in this “final battle.” Things continue to get worse before they get better (as they have been doing throughout the story), only now they are in an arena of some sort where it seems that everything is on the line, and there’s no turning back.
Ultimately, successful story climaxes tend to involve the main character getting out of their old small-minded ways of doing things—if only for a moment—to find some higher version of themselves (more open, self-reflective, honest and conciliatory). They “dig deep” and find some believable positive approach to the situation that might not have been available to them before—because they had to go through this whole gauntlet of “story” before they could be broken down and willing to make some small change in their approach. This final decision on their part allows them to take the final actions that lead to the story’s resolution.
The key to a great climax is to make sure that whatever final breakthrough occurs feels organic to the character and the story, and isn’t a forced, sudden or arbitrary change. The ending really does need to feel like the understandable outcome to all that has come before.
In this workshop, writers will learn all the key elements to a successful “episodic spec,” and will receive ongoing instructor guidance in building their own—from basic idea through finished outline. It begins with knowing how to choose the right kind of show to spec, then understanding which elements to study, in order to really grasp how a typical episode functions well enough to write one. Students will then learn the elements of great story ideas for a spec, and be given a chance to pitch and re-pitch multiple ideas for their episode, before finally settling on one to write. At that point, they will begin “breaking story” (figuring out the key “beats” of each “act”) over several weeks, getting instructor feedback along the way. Finally, they will be guided in crafting a scene-by-scene outline, from which they could then go on to write the actual script.