Shelley Widhalm

Finding Riches in Resolutions

In 52 Writing Topics, Shelley Widhalm, Writing on July 22, 2012 at 11:00 am

For the reader, this concept is essential, or the story or novel will fall apart at the end.

It is the resolution of the storyline.

A story’s resolution can be open-ended or conclude all that has happened before, drawing together the symbols, images, characters and separate plotlines into a perfect last sentence.

Stories are structured to follow an arc – consisting of the rising action, the climax, and the falling action and resolution, or the beginning, middle and end.

A conflict is introduced that in the middle is complicated only to be resolved later on.  At the midpoint, the stakes are raised for the main character. And at the point of the resolution, the plot complications are unraveled, while any loose ends are explained.

In more detail, the rising action begins with the presentation of essential information through character development, narration and dialogue. The story’s action rises through a complication, where the point-of-view character encounters conflict that can be internal, external or both.

The climax is the story’s turning point. It is the peak, or most intense part, of the telling and the result of all the events preceding it.

At this point, the character has to make a decision, resolve a problem or face a new challenge in order to end her conflict. If she decides to remain with the status quo, she will suffer the consequences.

The falling action is what results from the climax and occurs near the story’s end. The resolution, also called a reversal or denouement, is where the problem of the story is resolved or worked out.

A reversal comes into play when there is a change in the character’s situation, while the denouement gives relief to the readers that all will work out in the telling of the story.

In my latest novel, “One April Day,” the resolution is the point at which the main character, Maggie Cooper, realizes she does not need to listen to what other people tell her to do to figure out what is best for her life. She doesn’t need to follow what turned out to be a false prophecy to get what she wants – to write novels instead of working in journalism.

The resolution in my story or any other story is the point at which the plot no longer needs to move forward. The ending resolves the conflict and situation both for the main character and the plotline.

See Zoey’s blog, “Zoey’s Paw,” at

  1. Nicely done. And Maggie’s right, you gotta watch out for those false prophecies.

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