This blog post discusses how to use falling actions in your story structure. Whether it is a novel or a short story to skip falling actions is a missed opportunity. Falling actions should be a part of your plot structure in any fictional story.
What is a falling action?
The falling action definition: part of a story in which events move toward a resolution after a climax. This is usually where many of the loose ends are tied up, and all questions are answered.
What is rising action?
It can be helpful to understand what a rising action is to understand falling actions. The rising action is part of a story during which tension increases, and events build up to the climax. This involves introducing more complicated conflicts, building suspense, and increasing readers’ excitement as they follow the protagonist’s journey. It builds to the excitement, whereas the falling action helps bring the reader emotional satisfaction.
Falling action examples
To get more examples, check out my falling action generator.
- After the story’s climax, the main character’s friends help them clean up the mess and restore everything.
- The two lovers reconcile and start to plan their future together.
- The criminal is apprehended by the authorities and taken away to face justice for their crimes.
- After a long journey, the hero finally reaches home and is reunited with their family members.
- The survivors of a natural disaster come together to rebuild their homes and communities once again.
Falling actions in movies
One of the most recognizable falling action scenes is from Star Wars. The story’s climax is when the rebels blow up the death star. Why doesn’t the movie simply end with the explosion? Why do the credits not roll as soon as the rebel obtain their goal?
The falling action, in this case, is the medal ceremony at the end of the movie, allowing the audience to experience a sense of satisfaction at the end. This allows viewers to feel like they have journeyed along with the characters and understand their motivations throughout.
Another case would be Harry Potter. The falling action begins after Voldemort is defeated. The characters also use this time to heal physically and emotionally from all they have been through during their battle. The journey back to his uncle’s house resets everything to where Harry was at the start of each book and prepared the reading audience for the next book.
Tips for using falling actions:
Here are some ways to write falling actions to tie up your story and satisfy your audience.
Analyze the Character’s Reactions
Consider how characters may respond to a climax and use those reactions as falling action.
For example, if a character experiences a great victory at the story’s climax, they may express their triumph with cheers or hugs. On the other hand, if something tragic happened at this point in time, then their response could be grief-filled tears or stunned silence.
Whatever emotions the characters feel during this climactic moment can then be used as falling action for the rest of the story. This allows for resolution and understanding that brings a sense of peace after such an intense emotional rollercoaster ride.
Reaction falling action examples
- After the death of a beloved character, his family and friends are overcome with grief. They spend time together in mourning, sharing stories of their favorite memories as they come to terms with their loss.
- A young girl is forced to leave her home due to an impending natural disaster. As she bids farewell to her family and friends, she finds comfort in knowing that even though they have been separated, their love for one another will never fade away.
- After the protagonist finally defeats the villain, he takes a moment to reflect on all he has accomplished and how far he’s come since starting his journey. He then looks ahead toward an uncertain future with confidence and hope for what lies ahead.
Keep Things Interesting
Don’t let the falling action become dull or predictable; try to add some complexity and surprise the reader with unexpected events or outcomes.
This will create a more exciting story that readers won’t be able to put down. From introducing a twist in the plot to creating a suspenseful cliffhanger at the end of an act, these elements can help engage your audience, keep them hooked on your narrative, and set things up for future stories.
Utilize dialogue between characters to provide insight into their thoughts and feelings about what has happened in the climax of your story.
For example, writing falling actions where two of the main characters talk about how their actions make them feel can tie up any loose ends in the story. It can also be used to tell what it will change in their life, such as careers or relationships.
Simple falling action dialog example
Person 1: "I feel so guilty that our friend was behind all of this, and we didn't see the clues sooner."
Person 2: "I know. It's hard to believe she could do something like this. But at least we were able to solve the crime before any more damage was done."
Person 1: "Yes, but it still doesn't make me feel any less regretful for not catching on sooner."
Person 2: "It's okay. We can't be perfect all the time. We just have to take what happened and move forward with it."
Describe how the consequences of the climax will affect each character in different ways; this can be a great way to bring closure to loose ends created by earlier plot points in your story.
Examples of consequences in a falling action
- The protagonist is forced to leave their home and find a new place to live.
- The protagonist’s relationships with family or friends are permanently damaged due to their actions.
- The antagonist is brought to justice through the legal system or vigilante justice.
- The protagonist experiences regret over their choices and learns from them to make better decisions in the future.
- The protagonist loses all material possessions related to the conflict and must start over again with nothing but what they can carry on their back.
Show how all conflicts that have been built up throughout your story are resolved during falling action, leaving readers feeling fulfilled and satisfied with the ending of your tale.
Examples of resolving conflicts in the falling action
- Compromise: Both parties can agree to find a middle ground that meets each person’s needs.
- Negotiation: Each party presents its points and then works together to develop a mutually beneficial solution.
- Mediation: A neutral third-party mediator helps both sides discuss their problems and reach an agreement.
- Collaboration: Both parties work together cooperatively to understand each other’s perspectives and develop creative solutions that meet everyone’s needs and goals.
- Apology/Forgiveness: One or both parties admit mistakes, apologise, forgive, and move on from the conflict to restore the relationship and repair any damage from the altercation.
Avoid Excess Explanation
The falling action is not meant for long-winded explanations; keep it concise so readers don’t lose interest while they wait for the resolution.
Your readers want a nice but brief resolution at this point in the story. Too much explanation in the falling action can make a story sound overly wordy and confusing. It is essential to be concise and direct when writing so that the reader can quickly comprehend the point of your work. Instead of explaining every detail about a concept, you should focus on giving only the necessary information needed for understanding.
Show how characters may have changed after experiencing a significant event in their lives – this adds an extra level of realism, allowing readers to identify more closely with them emotionally!
Falling action character change examples
- A character begins to make amends with their family, showing they are taking steps to rebuild relationships that have been strained.
- Protagonists learn from their mistakes and change how they approach future situations.
- A character leaves a toxic relationship and starts fresh by finding new friends and rebuilding their social life.
- After an argument, the two characters make up and apologize for the hurtful things they say, demonstrating the change in how they communicate with each other going forward.
- After facing a difficult challenge, a character gains confidence in themselves and learns to take risks instead of staying stuck in their comfort zones like before.
If you prefer to listen instead of reading, Justin explains falling actions in some detail on his creative writing channel.
See the dictionary.com definition.
In conclusion, falling actions provide a sense of closure to the story by resolving conflicts and giving characters a sense of resolution. They help round out the narrative arc and tie up loose ends. By understanding how falling actions fit into your writing, you can create more satisfying stories that leave readers with a feeling of completion.