Interesting Thing Just Happened
Then, I tried something different. I started the chapter with the dramatic action. Just, boom, he's moments before doing it. There are a few brief flashbacks before the dramatic action, but I let the reader do the majority of the work. The reader, through imagination, needs to fill in the emotions that must have led to this point.
It felt to me like it worked. His actions are in the realm of possibility, but explaining the actions just doesn't work. But, just having him doing it worked. It's like if you told someone something dramatic that happened. They might say, "I don't believe it. How could that happen?" Then, you hand them the newspaper account that reports the incident. No emotion, no buildup, but they read it and say, "okay, it did happen."
It's strange what readers will believe when it's simply presented as fact. (okay, so I'm assuming that the end of my novel might some day have readers)