Is resolution the most important part of the story? As fiction writers, we try to captivate readers with our storytelling skills. One essential element that keeps readers hooked until the very end is a satisfying resolution.
I am in enough book groups to know that if you don’t have a satisfactory ending, they will rip apart your book on the internet. Looking at you Divergent.
A well-crafted resolution not only ties up loose ends but also leaves a lasting impact on the audience. Today’s blog post is all about creating the perfect resolution in fiction writing. We’ll dive into some cool techniques that’ll keep your readers engaged and give them a satisfying ending.
Let’s back up a step and define a resolution. Resolution in a story is when the tension ends and the reader gets closure. This is where the story’s problem is dealt with and everything falls into place.
Resolution refers to the culmination of the story, where conflicts are resolved, and the main narrative threads find their conclusion. It is important to distinguish resolution from the climax (the peak of tension), and the denouement (the story’s end).
The resolution determines the fate of the characters and their relationships. It is the culmination of the plot, where the various storylines, subplots, and character arcs intersect and find their resolution.
Why is Resolution Important?
Resolution is important in fiction because it:
- brings closure
- satisfies readers’ expectations
- completes the narrative structure
- develops character
- explores themes
- engages readers
- provides emotional catharsis
Techniques for Impactful Resolutions
Resolution is a crucial component of effective storytelling, ensuring that readers walk away with a sense of fulfillment and a lasting impression of the story. Authors use a variety of techniques to create effective resolutions in their stories. Here are some common techniques:
Cathartic resolutions bring relief to both characters and readers.
♦ “Atonement” by Ian McEwan delves into themes of guilt, forgiveness, and the power of storytelling. The resolution offers catharsis when the truth is revealed. This allows both the characters and readers alike to confront the consequences of their actions and seek redemption.
Revelation resolutions unveil a crucial piece of information or a hidden truth. This truth changes the perception of events or characters, creating a shift in understanding.
♦ In the classic mystery novel “And Then There Were None” by Agatha Christie, ten strangers are lured to an isolated island. There they are mysteriously killed off one by one. The resolution offers a revelation that completely changes the readers’ understanding of events and the identity of the killer.
Symbolic resolutions are elements or motifs that encapsulate deeper meanings or themes explored throughout the story to provide a sense of resonance and closure.
♦ The novel “Lord of the Flies” by William Golding explores the descent into savagery when a group of boys are stranded on an uninhabited island. The resolution employs symbolic elements that reflect the inherent darkness of human nature and the loss of innocence.
This resolution reflects or mirrors earlier events and character development to resolve the story,
♦ Station Eleven follows characters whose lives intertwine before and after a pandemic. The resolution connects past and present events, showing how they are similar.
We achieve this resolution through characters taking decisive action. When they make essential choices, or confront obstacles head-on, it results in a satisfying outcome.
♦ Set in 19th-century New York, “The Golem and the Jinni” by Helene Wecker, is a historical fantasy novel that follows a golem and a jinni who form an unlikely friendship. The resolution is achieved through their joint actions as they confront their respective origins, face external threats, and forge their own destinies.
This resolution incorporates elements of irony. Unexpected results make the resolution more complex.
♦ Set in a dystopian society, “The Unit” by Ninni Holmqvist follows a woman who is marked “dispensable” and sent to a luxurious facility for organ donation. The resolution unfolds with irony, challenging societal values and raising ethical questions.
Authors often use these techniques to fit their genre and theme. The specific combination of techniques used in a resolution can vastly affect its effectiveness and the lasting impression it leaves on readers.
Types of Resolution
There are different resolutions in fiction writing. While the specific types can vary depending on the genre and narrative structure, here are a few common resolutions:
This type of resolution brings a sense of joy, satisfaction, and closure to the story. The major conflicts are resolved, and the characters find happiness or fulfillment in their lives. Happy endings are often associated with genres like romance, comedy, or uplifting stories.
♦ “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows is a historical fiction novel set in post-World War II England. It centers on a writer who becomes immersed in the lives of the residents of Guernsey Island. In the book’s conclusion, the characters find solace, friendship, and new beginnings, while emphasizing the significance of human connection.
In contrast to a happy ending, a tragic ending involves unresolved conflicts or unfortunate outcomes for the characters. This type of resolution can evoke powerful emotions in readers and leave a lasting impact. We often find tragic endings in genres such as tragedy, drama, or dark fiction.
♦ Set in 19th-century Russia, “Anna Karenina” by Leo Tolstoy explores themes of love, betrayal, and societal expectations. The story follows Anna Karenina, as her forbidden affair and societal ostracization lead to her despair and ultimate tragic fate.
Related Reading: How to Create Memorable Dialogue
An open-ended resolution leaves some aspects of the story unresolved or open to interpretation. It allows readers to speculate about what might happen next or draw their conclusions. Open-ended resolutions can create a sense of mystery or stimulate deeper reflection.
♦ Set in a post-apocalyptic world, “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy, tells the story of a father and son journeying through desolation. The novel has an open-ended resolution which leaves the fate of the characters uncertain. This allows readers to contemplate their ultimate destination and survival.
This type of resolution focuses on the personal growth and transformation of the main character. The character has overcome their internal conflicts and gained a new perspective on life.
♦ Set in the 1960s “The Secret Life of Bees” (by Sue Monk Kidd) follows the journey of Lily Owens. Lily is a young girl who escapes her troubled home life and seeks solace and answers in the company of three beekeeping sisters. Throughout the story, Lily experiences transformation, overcoming her past and finding healing and self-acceptance.
Related Reading: Character Development Tips that Every Writer Needs
Plot Twist Resolution
A plot twist changes the story’s outcome. It challenges assumptions, reveals hidden information, or introduces a new conflict that needs resolution.
♦ This bestselling thriller “The Da Vinci Code” by Dan Brown, combines art, religion, and cryptic puzzles in a quest for a hidden secret. Unexpected plot twists are scattered throughout Brown’s story. The characters uncover historical secrets and face shocking revelations that reshape their perception of the truth, culminating in a thrilling conclusion.
An epiphany resolution is when the main character has a sudden realization that resolves the conflict. It often involves a profound change in perspective or a shift in the character’s beliefs or values.
♦ Set in the late 19th century, “The Awakening” by Kate Chopin explores the life of Edna Pontellier. Edna is a woman who challenges societal norms and seeks personal freedom. Her journey culminates in a powerful epiphany that leads to her realization of her true desires and the pursuit of her own identity, ultimately shaping the resolution of the story.
It’s important to note that we can include multiple elements in a story to create a layered resolution.. The choice of resolution type depends on the tone, themes, and goals of your story, as well as the emotional impact you wish to evoke in your readers.
Related Reading: Creating Conflict: Understanding the Basics
The Elements of a Resolution
A strong resolution incorporates several key elements that ensure reader satisfaction. The elements of a resolution in fiction writing contribute to its effectiveness and impact. Here are the key elements to consider when crafting a resolution:
The resolution should address the central conflicts of the story, providing a resolution or outcome that brings a sense of closure. It should show how the conflicts are resolved or transformed.
The resolution should address the growth and development of the main characters. It should showcase their transformation, lessons learned, or the realization of their goals or desires.
The resolution should tie up loose ends and resolve any remaining plot threads or subplots. It should provide answers to unanswered questions or uncertainties presented throughout the story.
The resolution should evoke emotional satisfaction in readers. It should elicit a range of emotions, such as joy, relief, sadness, or catharsis, depending on the tone and themes of the story.
The resolution should provide a sense of closure to the story, giving readers a feeling of completeness and finality. It should bring a sense of resolution to the narrative, leaving readers with a clear understanding of the story’s outcome.
Related Reading: The Art of Description: Techniques for Bringing Your Writing to Life
Relevance to Themes
The resolution should apply to the overarching themes of the story. It should reinforce or challenge the narrative’s themes.
The resolution should engage readers and maintain their interest until the end. It should captivate them emotionally, intellectually, or through surprising twists and turns.
The resolution should be consistent with the established world, characters, and rules of the story. It should feel organic and in line with the tone, style, and genre of the narrative.
The resolution should be supported by foreshadowing and clues planted throughout the story. It should feel natural and not come out of nowhere, allowing readers to connect the dots and anticipate the resolution to some extent.
The resolution should have a significant impact on the characters, their relationships, or the story’s outcome. It should leave a lasting impression on readers, provoking thought or reflection.
By incorporating these elements into the resolution, writers can create a compelling and satisfying conclusion that resonates with readers and enhances the overall quality of their story.
Examples of Impactful Resolutions
You may have wondered how some authors craft their resolutions. Here are a few examples:
A Gentleman in Moscow
In A Gentleman in Moscow, Amor Towles uses resolution to depict the personal growth and transformation of the main character. Count Rostov finds purpose, love, and contentment within the confines of the hotel.
Little Fires Everywhere
Celeste Ng uses an open-ended resolution in Big Little Lies. This leaves readers to speculate on the aftermath of a community divided by secrets, moral dilemmas, and the choices made by its characters.
In Homegoing Yaa Gyasi offers a resolution that spans generations, depicting the legacy of slavery through interconnected stories. The resolution showcases healing and reconciliation as characters grapple with their shared history.
Mohsin Hamid’s Exit West employs a blend of realism and magical elements in its resolution. Nadia and Saeed find solace in a tumultuous world through mysterious doors that take them to different places.
A Tale for the Time Being
Ruth Ozeki’s novel employs a complex resolution with magical realism and existential exploration.. It leaves readers with thought-provoking questions about time, identity, and interconnectedness.
10 Tips for Impactful Resolutions
There are lots of ways you can improve resolutions for your fictional novels. My advice…
1. Plan Ahead: Outline your story and have a clear vision of the resolution you want to achieve before you start writing.
2. Stay True to the Story: Make sure the resolution aligns with the tone, genre, and overall theme of your story.
3. Avoid Deus Ex Machina: Avoid resolving conflicts with sudden and unrealistic solutions that feel contrived.
4. Closure for Subplots: Tie up loose ends for subplots and secondary characters to provide a satisfying overall resolution.
5. Emotional Payoff: Ensure that the resolution elicits an emotional response from readers, whether it be joy, relief, or catharsis.
6. Avoid Rushing: Give the resolution enough space and time in the story to breathe and resonate with readers.
7. Avoid Over-Explaining: Strike a balance between providing closure and leaving room for readers to interpret and speculate.
8. Deliver Surprises: Incorporate unexpected elements or plot twists in the resolution to keep readers engaged and intrigued.
9. Leave Room for Interpretation: Craft an ending that invites readers to reflect and draw their own conclusions.
10. Consider Reader Satisfaction: Think about what your target audience desires from the resolution and deliver on their expectations.
Last Words on Impactful Resolutions
Crafting the perfect resolution is an art that fiction writers strive to master. You can make a lasting impression on your readers by comprehending the components of a strong resolution, using efficient techniques, and avoiding common errors.
Remember to experiment and find unique resolutions that surprise and engage your audience. With dedication and practice, you can create resolutions that captivate readers and ensure your stories resonate long after they reach the last page.
Feature image by ZeeShutterz from Pixabay.