Updated: Jun 16, 2020
Once you hit the falling action part of your plot, it’s official: the climactic moment is complete.
The darkest moment is over, with your protagonist officially fighting the evil overlords guarding Azynx… or having a full-out screaming match with her honey over whether moving to the city was the right thing to do… or coming face to face with the woman who destroyed his life all those years ago.
Whatever that big deal was, it’s been faced and fought. And your main character has either come out ahead. Or not.
That means the climb back down from our literary mountain has begun. It’s all anticlimactic from here. That building tension most of the book radiated has now dissipated, leaving only some smaller questions left to be answered or smaller issues to be explored.
Though, in saying that, it’s clear that there’s still some journey left to complete.
You’re not home quite yet.
“Home” in this context is, of course, your ending: the place where you get to write, “and they lived happily ever after” or whatever your last line is going to be.
You truly are almost there once you’ve reached Stage 4 of our five-step plot guide. Because Stage 4, as described below, isn’t long at all.
Falling action is a story’s final route to resolution. In this segment, the major drama has already happened, with the protagonist either emerging victorious or failing. If the latter, he doesn’t get another chance to resolve that issue as originally intended. There are no do-overs allowed.
It’s only a matter of tidying the plot up as best as possible to prepare for the ending. There’s always some mess left to be straightened or questions to be answered, so the falling action at least addresses them to funnel neatly (or at least logically) into the conclusion.
Let’s explore some of those likely questions down below.
We'll use our first lines as examples. The part where we mentioned “your protagonist officially fighting the evil overlords guarding Azynx… or having a full-out screaming match with her honey over whether moving to the city was the right thing to do… or coming face to face with the woman who destroyed his life all those years ago.”
In the first scenario, let’s assume your protagonist came out ahead. The evil overlords are kaput.
Great! But how is your hero going to handle the blaster-burned farmlands around the capital city now? And how about the new government? How’s that going to work?
In the second case, we’re going to say that the couple broke up because, at the end of the climatic moment, she realized that he was an utterly selfish person.
Good for her for dumping the bum. However, what is she going to do now? Does she have a friend she can crash with? Can she return to her old job back in Kansas?
And as for our third story, the main character has walked away knowing the villain has won. How does that affect him? Does he have anyone to turn to? Can he recover some other way?
We’ll discuss those questions in greater detail on Friday. But for now, if you’ve reached your story’s falling action, you might want to write out any loose ends that are left – and hold onto them until we’re ready to dig deeper.
Editor’s Note: Read the next post on falling action here.