What is The Resolution in a Story? [& How Do You Write One?]

the resolution of a story

The resolution of a story refers to the moment everything comes together for the main characters. It’s the stage in the story’s plot structure where characters resolve their conflicts, and the climax’s ripple effects settle down. It’s the satisfying end that makes sure that the story feels complete.

If you’re looking to learn how to write a good resolution, look no further. This is the article for you!

Whenever I plot out my stories, I will visit and revisit the resolution because I think it’s that important.

For example, when I first wrote Iron Dogs, I had no idea how it would actually end or which of the main characters – if any – would survive. It took several iterations and much thought to come up with a resolution to the story that I felt was both satisfying and logical, both in terms of the character’s motives and actions, as well as the world rules I had created around them.

Even in those cases where I go into a story thinking I know exactly how it will end, as in my action screenplay, Setting Square, I typically end up with something different – and more fitting to the story as written. The takeaway here is to be flexible and let your story guide you.

Good resolutions are memorable and leave readers feeling satisfied. They should be concrete, specific, and achievable.

In this article, we will discuss what a story resolution is, how to write one in your own novel, short story, or screenplay, and give some examples from popular literature!

What Is The Resolution of a Story?

infographic explaining the answer to "what is the resolution of a story?"

In the resolution of a story, which is the last part, the big exciting moment happens, and the main character’s problems get solved.

It’s where the story wraps up and answers all the questions that came up during the story.

This part is really important because it shows how everything ends for the main characters and others in the story.

The ending can be happy or sad, but it should make the reader feel like the story is complete.

How To Write The Resolution of A Story

Writing the resolution of a good story is a delicate art, requiring a balance of closure and intrigue. It’s your last chance to make an impression on the reader and tie up your story plot and subplots while still leaving room for a bit of mystery!

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when writing the resolution of your story:

infographic showing how to write the resolution of a story

1. Tie Up Loose Ends After the Climax
After delivering a gripping climax, ensure that all subplots and character arcs come to a fitting close. Readers appreciate a story that respects all its story threads, no matter how minor.

2. Keep It Simple
While it’s tempting to throw in a surprise twist, sometimes the most straightforward endings resonate the most. An uncomplicated resolution can end a story in a more satisfying manner.

3. Leave Some Mystery
While the primary conflict should find closure, leaving certain elements open-ended can provoke thought and discussion. This can also pave the way for potential sequels or spin-offs.

4. Stay True to Your Characters
Your characters have grown throughout the story. Ensure their decisions in the resolution reflect their development and stay consistent with their personalities.

5. Deliver a Satisfying Ending
Every reader might have a different idea of a “perfect” ending. Aim for one that aligns with the story’s tone, whether hopeful, melancholic, or bittersweet.

6. Don’t Rush
A hurried ending can undo all the buildup. Let events unfold naturally, allowing readers to process and reflect on the story’s journey.

7. Seek External Help If Needed
If you hit a wall, don’t hesitate to seek inspiration. AI story generators, writing workshops, or even discussions with fellow writers can provide fresh perspectives.

8. Reflect Real Emotions
A resolution that evokes genuine emotions, whether of joy, sorrow, or contemplation, will stay with readers long after they’ve finished the story.

9. Revisit Earlier Themes
Echoing themes or motifs from earlier in the story can provide a sense of full circle, enhancing the feeling of a cohesive narrative.

10. End with Forward Momentum
Even as you conclude, hint at the continuing journeys or adventures of the characters, suggesting that while this tale is over, life goes on.

The Role of a Resolution in Story Structure

The resolution in a story structure is the final part of the plot, starting just before the climax and ending with the last moment or image.

It resolves the main conflict for the protagonist and can have a happy or unhappy outcome. The resolution often begins with the protagonist’s decisive action, which might be physical, mental, or emotional. It may also involve actions taken by others.

The falling action follows, tying up loose ends and answering questions, showing how the characters and their world have changed, leading to the story’s conclusion.

Freytag’s Pyramid

freytag's pyramid

Freytag’s Pyramid is a dramatic structure that writers have used for centuries. It is named after German writer Gustav Freytag, who first described it in his book Technique of the Drama.

The pyramid is divided into five sections: exposition (introduction), rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution.

The resolution is the final section of the plot structure pyramid, in which the story’s conflict is resolved, and the story ends. This can be a happy ending, a sad ending, or a bittersweet ending.

While similar to the three-act structure outlined by Plato in Poetics, there are marked differences between the 3-act plot structure diagram and Freytag’s Pyramid, particularly in terms of the length of rising action, the point of occurrence of the climax, and the length of falling action (as illustrated in the diagrams above).

In addition, in a classical three-act structure, the resolution is not merely the very end of the story, as Freytag indicates, but the entirety of the third act, which includes the climax, falling action, and ending.

a visual representation of three act story structure, with the setup, confrontation and resolution

In either case, the resolution is usually when the protagonist defeats the villain or finally gets what they’ve been striving for.

Sometimes, the resolution is more open-ended, and it isn’t clear whether the protagonist has achieved their goal. Either way, the resolution marks the end of the story’s main conflict and signals a new beginning for the protagonist.

Whether it is a happy or tragic ending, the resolution is when the story reaches its conclusion.

What Happens After the Resolution of a Story?

In some stories, the climax is followed by a brief epilogue that ties up loose ends and provides closure for the main characters. In others, the resolution is simply the end of the story, with no further explanation given.

Either way, the resolution is an essential part of the story and can involve both triumph and tragedy.

The resolution includes a turning point for the characters, who must now find a way to cope with their new situation following the end of the main conflict. For better or worse, their lives have been changed forever by the story’s events.

When done well, the resolution should answer all questions and close all plotholes. There should be no more story to tell. That said, it doesn’t mean that a new story can’t start following the end of the current one, much like we see in episodic stories and sequels.

Can I Skip a Resolution in My Story?

In every story, there must be conflict. Without it, there is no story. And without resolution, that conflict remains unresolved, and the story is unfinished.

So what happens if you skip a resolution in your story? Well, technically speaking, you shouldn’t. In a well-structured plot, all conflicts should be resolved by the end of the story.

However, that doesn’t mean you must spell it out for your readers!

Sometimes, the best resolution is one that is left up to interpretation. This can be done by hinting at what might happen next or leaving some unresolved conflict.

By doing so, you invite your readers to use their imaginations to resolve some portion of the conflict or its aftermath in their own minds. In some cases, this can be more satisfying than a traditional resolution in literature, as each reader will have their take on what happens in the end.

So if you’re struggling to find a resolution for your story, don’t worry; just remember that sometimes, less is more.

How Do I Write a Resolution for a Subplot?

Subplots can be a great way to add depth and interest to your story. However, if not handled carefully, they can also end up feeling like a messy jumble of unrelated plot threads. So how do you write a resolution for a subplot that ties everything together neatly without feeling contrived?

One approach is to have the events of the subplot echo or mirror the main plot in some way.

For example, if your main plot is about a character struggling to overcome a traumatic event from their past, you could resolve a subplot involving another character’s struggle with addiction by having them both find healing by facing their demons head-on.

Another option is to have the resolution of the subplot directly impact the main plot.

For instance, if your story is about a group of friends trying to save their community center from being demolished, the resolution to a subplot about one character’s relationship troubles could be that they finally make up with their estranged partner, and they both join the fight to save the community center.

Whichever route you choose, just make sure that the resolution to your subplot feels organic and earned and that it enhances, rather than detracts from, your story as a whole.

Examples of a Resolution in Literature and Film

Let’s look at some literary examples to help you become a better writer. Warning: Spoilers!

Example 1 – The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

silver ring on silver ring

Following the climax of The Great Gatsby, where Tom Buchanan confronts Jay Gatsby about his illegal activities and intentions toward his wife, Daisy Buchanan, their love triangle disintegrates when Daisy chooses to stay with Tom. Tom scornfully tells Gatsby to drive her home, secure that Daisy will never leave him.

On the way back, the car accidentally runs over and kills Myrtle, Tom’s mistress. When it’s revealed that Daisy was driving the car, Gatsby takes the blame to save her. In retaliation, Myrtle’s husband, George, shoots Gatsby and himself.

In the end, Tom and Daisy leave together, and Gatsby’s name is dragged through the mud. Few friends attend his funeral, save for the narrator of the story, Nick Carraway, who decides to leave for the Midwest, disgusted with high society life in New York.

Example 2 – To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

to kill a mockingbird

The climax reaches its pinnacle in the big courtroom scene, where Tom is found guilty, shattering Scout’s hope that the truth of his innocence will prevail. To make matters worse, Tom gets shot in jail, and the villainous Ewell tries to take revenge on Atticus by trying to kill Scout and Jem.

The children are saved by Boo Radley, their mysterious neighbor and former boogeyman, who turns out to be a gentle man. In the end, the children learn that all people have both good and evil within them, and injustice is ingrained in the system.

Common Questions (FAQs)

What is an example of a resolution in a story?

In Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Elizabeth Bennett, after a lot of back-and-forth and misunderstandings, finally decides to tie the knot with Mr. Darcy. That’s a classic example of a story resolution in literature. A good ending should always give you that “Aha!” or “Aww!” moment. It’s the part that lingers, making you think or smile long after you’ve closed the book.

What is the resolution of a short story example?

In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, the story reaches its resolution when Benjamin, who ages backward, embraces his unique identity. After years of attempting to fit in and denying his true nature, he finally acknowledges and accepts his distinctiveness. This ending underscores the timeless message: self-acceptance is powerful, and it’s never too late to make peace with who you truly are.

What is the purpose of the resolution in a story?

The resolution in a story serves the purpose of providing closure to the narrative. It ties up loose ends, resolves conflicts, and offers a sense of fulfillment to the audience. The resolution can signify the beginning of a new chapter in the storyline, introducing fresh challenges or opportunities for the characters.

Is a resolution a conclusion?

Resolution is often thought of as the conclusion of a story, but it can also be seen as the beginning of a new chapter. The resolution is like a turning point, as it can signal a change in direction or a new beginning. In many ways, the resolution of a story is what we make of it – it can be the end of something or the start of something new.

Are climax and resolution the same?

The terms climax and resolution are often used interchangeably, but they refer to two different aspects of a story. The climax is the point of most significant tension or conflict when the protagonist must face their greatest challenge. The resolution is the story’s conclusion when the conflict is resolved and the story ends. While the resolution may occur simultaneously with the climax, it is not necessarily the same. The resolution is the story’s final outcome, while the climax is simply the point of greatest tension or conflict.

resolution in a story

Final Thoughts: What is the Resolution of a Story?

A story’s resolution is the point at which the conflict or problem is resolved. It can be a happy ending, a sad ending, or anything in between.

The important thing to remember is that a story must have a resolution if it’s going to satisfy readers and make them feel like they’ve finished something.

Love learning new storytelling skills? Check out these helpful articles!

Examples of Themes in Books and Literature: Definition & Types

What Is The Introduction In A Story? (Definition & Examples)

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *