When we talk about showdown, we’re talking about the major (usually final) conflict between your main character and the antagonist. Up until this point, your MC has had minor struggles, sure, but nothing compares to this.
This is what your character has been growing towards.
Every good showdown is either physical, emotional, or mental. Sometimes, it can be a combination of the three. No matter what the type, the conflict will always be resolved by something your character has learned during the story.
Your major conflict will always be resolved by something your character has learned during the story. This is why it’s important for you to be foreshadowing throughout the novel. This is also why it’s important for your character to have an A-HA! moment.
Your major conflict will have something precious at stake. This is the way you can tell a major conflict from a minor one. The stakes are higher, be it a shared love interest, a sorceror’s stone, a desire to rule the kingdom, etc. Whatever is won or lost will make or break your MC. Again, foreshadowing will lead us to believe this as an absolute truth.
Your major conflict will involve something both sides want very badly. This goes hand in hand with the point above, but if your antagonist only kinda wants to destroy the planet, he won’t pose as much of a challenge. Especially if he gives in too soon.
Your major conflict will test your MC’s limits. Again, we could be talking physical, emotional, or mental limits. We need to feel that the character is giving everything they’ve got to get what they want.
Your major conflict will have a clear winner and clear loser. Nothing irritates a reader more than when nobody wins and the book ends without any clear shift toward good or evil. Neutrality is nobody’s friend. Even if the bad guy concedes and calls it a draw, he loses by giving in first.
Some other things that might happen (but don’t always):
Your MC will offer the antagonist a way out. This shows us how merciful and kind the MC is so we root for him or her even more. Of course, the antagonist won’t take the way out because, as I mentioned, both sides want to win very badly.
Your MC won’t get exactly what they want. This is handy for books that involve sequels or for books where your character is to learn a lesson. Because you can’t always get what you want. Yes, your MC stopped the bad guy from destroying the planet, but he escaped, so your MC didn’t stop the bad guy from ever trying again. But it’s good enough…for now.
Your MC will win but won’t be a hero. This can happen when your MC has to go against everyone else in order to do what he or she thinks is right. Heroes like that are much loved by readers because kids and teens know how hard it is to go against the crowd.
Now…let’s get ready to rumble!