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Monday, December 5, 2011

Novel Writing Tips #7 The Three Act Structure- The Resolution

The time has come to discuss the third part of the three Act structure- the Resolution.

Have you ever read a book or seen a movie that you found yourself enjoying and getting engaged in, only to be disappointed by a weak or unresolved ending?  This has happened to everyone, so remember how frustrating it is and don't let your own work fall into the same trap.  It's important to remember that each of the three Acts provides a distinct yet equally important part in your novel.  The third Act is important because it dramatically shows how the protagonist and other characters are able to succeed or resolve the conflicts of the second Act.

The second Act usually transitions into the third Act through the climax, and although the climax is extremely important, it must be followed by a worthwhile resolution.
Can you imagine The Return of the King ending with the destruction of the ring in Mt. Doom?  What if nothing followed?  The destruction of the ring was obviously the climax of the series, but the story needed to be wrapped up from there.  The resolution in the Lord of the Rings was a pretty large part of the story compared to the resolution in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, but again, can you imagine if that story had ended with Harry obtaining the sorcerer's Stone?  This book didn't need or demand as long a resolution as LOTR, but the resolution was equally important in each work.

By the time a story reaches it's resolution, the protagonist has probably learned something important or has somehow become a better person, and it is here we see evidence of that change in a positive character arc.   It is during the third Act that the loose ends (at least the main loose ends) are tied together and resolved. This Act also allows the reader to see the outcome of the main character’s decision at the climax.

A good strong resolution is a crucial and essential element in creating a memorable novel.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the summary - you're right, getting the final part of the traditional structure right is incredibly important to give the reader a 'finished aftertaste'. I mention a few structures in my recent blog post too.