The Crisis may or may not be contained within the Climax – if it is, it can be a very satisfying end for the reader. The Climax is a crowning major reversal, full of meaning – it is this meaning that moves the heart of the reader.
Snyder says the bad guys should be dispensed in ascending order, henchmen first, then the mastermind.
The scene with the Mutts, where Peeta and Katniss are literally fighting for their lives, is the near-climax, the dispensing of the henchmen, and Katniss does make a choice to shoot Cato’s hand, but this is not her Crisis decision – she’s well past the point of having sided with Peeta. The Crisis comes when she has to choose between Death and killing Peeta. Her decision (neither, says Katniss, she’s not going to play by the Gamemakers rules) is the rebellion act that sets up the rest of the series. It changes everything, and it makes her into something larger. Someone willing to die for a principle larger than herself, not simply a savage that is smart and ferocious enough to win the Games. Because it occurs at the Climax of the “who will win” question (the Obligatory Scene from the Inciting Incident), it is a Crisis within a Climax and therefore most satisfying. At this point, we think we have won completely – everything is UP. Only later do we find the price, the impact of the choice, and the irony.
Snyder says the final image should be the counterpoint or opposite of the opening image. In novels, symmetry with the opening image isn’t strictly required, but it can be compelling. In any event, the resolution needs to SHOW how the character has changed and how the world has changed. We also resolve any subplots, show the larger effect of the climax on society, tie up loose ends.
I hope this analysis of the Hunger Games has been useful! It’s a lot to absorb, and I encourage you to use this as a guide, and to do an analysis of your own favorite bestselling book. You may be surprised what you learn about storytelling!
While not every book is going to (or must) line up with the storytelling beats as described in McKee’s and Snyder’s books (they are for screenwriting after all), they do give a strong structure to build around. Rather than stifling creativity, I find the structure forces me into better storytelling. Like Haiku, the stringent requirements of form bring forth a beauty that would not happen without it.