Ab ovo & Anticlimax — A-to-Z Blog Challenge, Literary Terms

ASo I kick off the blog challenge with two literary terms. I will be giving an explanation of them, perhaps some examples, then making a connection between the two terms.

This is a hard challenge and I will be looking beyond an English textbook from school to explore key elements to writing in what should be literary terms.

Please leave a comment below to tell me your thought.

The terms today, is Ab ovo and Anticlimax.

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Ab ovo

You probably never heard this one before. Don’t worry, neither have I. Or if I did, I have forgotten it. Ab ovo is a Latin term, meaning: from the beginning, the origins, or the egg. The term originates from the story of Zeus becoming a swan and mating with Leda (seriously Zeus? Why can’t you be a human to mate with females), to which Leda laid twin eggs. One of the eggs gave birth to Helen of Troy, to which Paris smuggled her into Troy and started the Trojan War.

Getting past that, Ab ovo is the term when we start the story at the beginning of the conflict, before anything bad happens. This is more of a poetic term, but can be used for literature, indicating that it is the earliest chronological point to start from, either seeing the origin of the most important character (not necessarily the main character) or the beginning of whatever conflict there is (generally an overall conflict, like a war, not the conflict the Main character or protagonist must face). More than that, the point from the beginning in the story to the end is in chronological order.


Also written as Anti-climax. To understand this, let’s take a moment to understand, climax. I’m sure the men reading this have just answered that question, but for the women and other mature people, let us discuss climax.

Climax is the highest point in the story or the beginning of the action that leads to resolution of the conflict. Prior to this point is what we call the rising action, the build up of tension and plot, putting the readers on edge to see how things come together. It is the end of Act II and followed by resolution and dΓ©nouement.

So you would think that Anticlimax would be the opposite of that…right? Not entirely. Think of a story where we need to send a message by using fireworks, and we come to the climax where we must do it or everyone dies. In a climax story, we set off the fireworks and this leads to a great action sequence. In an Anti-climatic scene, no one has matches and we are unable to light the fireworks. It’s not that we don’t want to light them, we simply are unable to.

The best way to describe Anticlimax is a sudden drop from the rising action. All the tension is building in our story and we are ready to go and it just drops. Though it is not always negative. It can also be where you need to disable a ship to stop Earth from being destroyed, but no one knows how the engines work and it gets turned off by the off switch (thank you Kim Possible for that great example). Essentially there is a rather easy solution to a difficult almost impossible situation. Or perhaps from Iron Man 2 when War Machine (Rhodey) shoots a rocket at Ivan Vanko and it ends up being a dud. That was an Anti-climatic moment.
Mask off

Ab ovo and Anticlimax

Connecting these two is rather easy. Which is good becomes I will often be stretching things together. Both of these are elements of plot. Ab ovo is taking the story from the beginning and Anticlimax is having an unfortunate twist that is a little disappointing.

Not really much more to say than that, perhaps today my connection between the two will be anti-climatic. What can you do? Trust me, this section will rarely be this short.


  1. reeyah says:

    Thank you for explaining anticlimax so well. This will help when I start discussing literary terms in class. πŸ™‚

    • mad_cat says:

      Thank you, I’m glad to help. Stay tuned for a lot more literary terms, some that I made into literary terms to fluff the list. Should be fun.

  2. Bish Denham says:

    I’ve come across Ab ovo in cross words, but now I know its history. I love learning the stories behind words!

    Happy Day One of the AtoZ!

  3. M. J. Joachim says:

    Very interesting. I haven’t heard of Ab ovo before, but it makes perfect sense. Anticlimax can be a good thing, if it’s used creatively, engaging the audience with different twists and turns in the story.

    MJ, A to Z Challenge Co-Host
    Writing Tips
    Effectively Human
    Lots of Crochet Stitches

  4. I’ve never heard of Ab ovo before, but I like that you explained the history of it. Very interesting! I love etymology. You give an excellent explanation of anticlimax as well. Good stuff and great first post. πŸ™‚

    • mad_cat says:

      I think it is a good term to know. I think the history is interesting, mostly because no one back then didn’t think the story was a little weird? Thank you for your comment. Hope to see you for future posts.

  5. I had never heard of the first, but understand it, and that’s a great explanation of anticlimax Untethered Realms

  6. Sonia Lal says:

    I hadn’t heard of ab ovo before! Your explaintions are pretty good!

  7. Susan Scott says:

    Chris, great post thank you! And so cleverly and interestingly tied in with Zeus et al! I look forward to the next ones …

    Garden of Eden Blog

  8. Who knew? I had not come across ab ovo before. Thanks!

  9. Ab ovo is a fabulous lit term as it encompasses so much… Zeus and his proclivities aside!

    Nice to meet you through the A-toZ and I would love to learn more about the Knights first prank…


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