Thursday, December 16, 2010

Aspiring Advice: Falling Into Action


I need a quick reminder before my WIP reaches this point, something that's just as important to any other stage of a good novel; Falling Action. What's that? While different people may tell you different things, I like to think of Falling Action as the fourth stage of a story where all established plot points and loose ends come together before the conclusion. By the time your Falling Action is over, your problem should be resolved and your characters should show some measure of growth, experience, and decision on what they should do next.

Behold, the story arc! The reason I bring up falling action first is because if this part isn't handled right, your story will literally fall flat. During my discovery writing days (writing without a plan), family members would ask, "well, what about this? What about that?" I placed cool elements in my rising action that helped build the plot, but by the time I got to the falling action, I forgot them and came up with an ending that had more holes than Swiss cheese. It stunk! The trick is to plan your story ahead of time so you know just when and where to tie up your loose ends, but if you wish to continue discovery writing, at least keep notes or a journal of what you've done so you can look back if you need help with your falling action. Now, about that picture above. It's a little deceptive. Knowing where your climax lies is very important, and it usually isn't right in the middle of your story. Falling action should be momentous and fast, like something is actually falling. These days, my story arcs tend to look like this . . .

As you can see, falling action should be swift and not drag on for too long. Rising action has lots of room to develop characters and plot, but when the ultimate goal is achieved (finding a magical item/discovering who the killer is/climax), there isn't room for your story or characters to grow anymore. Why? Because they have something to do. The key word is "action." You've brought us to this point. Now make it so we don't want to put the book down. Wrap it up nice and tight.

When writing your falling action, remember . . .
1) don't leave any loose ends untied
2) reach your resolution faster than your climax
3) pace it just long enough to resolve loose ends
4) take notes as your story develops

How you go about this is up to you, but it is my hope that this has been helpful for someone out there and anyone who is aspiring to be an author. Now write!

I'm David, and Luigi spits fireballs.


  1. Good points! Falling action is a hard phase for me to write-- I always tend to make it too long in my first drafts. It's hard to tie up all the loose ends in a succinct way! But it definitely can make the story fall flat if it doesn't work out right.

  2. Hey Elder King! It's Jeff and Ashlee Kempton here. Thanks for letting us know about your blog and for the Holiday card. We love you guys! Give me a call sometime eh? PS - Robert Jordan is missing from your writer list. Geez!!!! JK

  3. Thank you, Shallee! I have the same problem, making it too long. I'll get it right this time.

    Jeff - hey! Long time no see! Thanks for checking out my blog. Expect a call from us, shortly. I will confess, I haven't picked up Robert Jordan yet, something I've been told to correct several times over. One of these days.