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You Say You Want a Resolution

There are many components to a story. Resolution plays a major part, although it may not seem so important at first glance. No, it isn’t the major battle scene, nor is it the long awaited confrontation. It’s what happens afterwards. And I would argue that it is just as important as that climactic moment in a story.

So, what exactly is resolution, when referring to literature? According to, “The literary device resolution means the unfolding or solution of a complicated issue in a story.” Here’s a little diagram to help:

As you can see, the resolution is the end of the story, where the author ties everything together. Why do I think that’s so important? Well, wouldn’t a story seem a bit off if there was this amazing, wonderful, crazy climax with some falling action, and then it just sort of ended? What if the story of Romeo and Juliet ended after the characters killed themselves? Wouldn’t you feel cheated by the author?

The story leads up to the climax, but an audience needs the problems of the story to be resolved afterwards. Thus, the need for resolution. You've gone up and now you need to go back down. Hopefully you acknowledge the importance of resolution to a story. Now, how do we go about write one?

Don’t Blabber on

Something to keep in mind is that the resolution really is just an ending to your story. You’ve just put your readers through hell and back, and you want everything to tie up nicely. Don’t feel the need to explain how each and every character (who is still alive) goes on to do this and this and blah blah blah….you don’t need to drag it out. So 1-Keep it short and 2-Tie everything together for your readers to feel a sense of closure. You owe it to them.

Let your Hero Be the Hero, or Not

Another thing to keep in mind while writing your resolution is that this is a moment for your protagonist to come to a conclusion of their own. Has your main character been searching for a certain thing? Trying to attain a certain task? Well, have these things either accomplished or lost to your character in the end. It wouldn’t do to have some other random character come in at the end and solve everything. That would not only be cheating your audience, but cheating your protagonist as well. If this whole story has been of their struggles, keep it their struggles until the very end. Your resolution will be all the more strong for it.

Don’t Lie!

Bouncing off of my last point, make sure that the whole adventure that you’re putting your readers and protagonist through is worth it. In other words, don’t have the major conflict or plot point turn out to be a lie. You can probably recall a movie or movies that do this very thing. And sometimes it works for movies. But for a novel, when you’ve led your readers through hundreds of pages, don’t have the main character discover that her quest is for naught. Sure, plot twists are great, but there are some stories out there that twist too far. So keep the story worth the read!

Second Opinion

And finally, when all is said and done and you’ve laid your pen, pencil, tired fingers down, seek a second opinion. You may have a pretty decent resolution with just enough action, most, if not all of your plot lines tied up. But it can’t help to show your story to someone else. It may be that your resolution is too long, or it doesn’t tie things together well. One of the worst things in a book is when you’ve read through this wonderful adventure and then the ending just falls flat. You feel cheated as the reader, and the once wonderful, magical adventure turns into a bitter memory.

There must be a balance between all of the many plot points in a book. You may have a strong beginning, great action that leads to the climax and some falling action, but if your resolution isn’t great, you’ve let your whole book down. Make sure to tie up the many parts to your story, don’t blabber on forever about what the characters do after their adventure, and don’t have the resolution end up being a big joke where the problem of the story is actually not a problem. You need to be kind to your readers and to your protagonist. Let Frodo sail off to the Grey Havens, let Nick turn his back on the world that destroyed his friend Gatsby. There is a wonderful resolution for your story within you, just seek it out and write it right.


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