We closed out our discussion of the Third Act by mentioning the renewed attackupon your character’s new paradigm (i.e., his embrace of the Truth). Althoughthat renewed attack can take place entirely before the Climax (as it does in
when St. John tries to prevent Jane from returning to Thornfield), moreoften than not, this psychological attack will continue right into the Climaxitself. In
The Writer’s Journey
, Christopher Vogler explains:The psychological meaning of such counterattacks is that neuroses,flaws, habits, desires, or addictions we have challenged may retreatfor a time, but can rebound in a last-ditch defense or desperateattack before being vanquished forever.
Timing the Final Rejection of the Lie Your Character BelievesRejecting the Lie in the Climax
Depending on the nature of your story, and particularly how closely the exteriorconflict with the antagonist is related to the character’s internal conflict, thecharacter may not throw off this assault until the Climactic Moment itself. Theantagonist may batter the protagonist with the Lie, hammering at the newlyhealed skin that’s formed over this old wound. This is the protagonist’s weakpoint, and the antagonist knows it.Placing the renewed attack and the final rejection of the Lie and embrace of theTruth in your Climax allows you to harmonize your exterior and interior conflicts.It also ups the stakes and the tension. Readers sit on the edges of their seats,chewing their nails, because they know full well that if the character can’tcomplete his arc right now, the antagonist will destroy him.However, harmonizing the two conflicts also has its downfalls. Because theClimax is such a busy section of your story, you won’t always have the time andspace to logically complete your character’s arc at the same time as he’s battlingthe antagonist. A saber duel to the death isn’t usually conducive to involvedexistential decisions.
Rejecting the Lie Before the Climax
Depending on your story’s pacing, you may decide your best choice is to haveyour character face and defeat his Lie for this final time before he charges intothe Climax. At this moment, your character will reject the last remnants of doubtabout the Lie and step forward to claim the Truth. He is, at last, completelycentered—and, as a result, completely empowered to face the antagonist. He istransformed.