The falling
Adventures in NaNoWriMo

The Falling Action NaNoWriMo day 29

Time for The Falling Action

Too many writers rush through the falling action. Give your character a moment to process what has just happened. The main battle may be over, but there is still plenty to do.

What is the Falling Action?

The falling action is the effect of the climax. Whatever choice was made in the climactic action, this is the effect. Luke fired the Proton torpedoes, now he must escape before the Death Star blows up.

Writing the falling

Frequently falling action involves escaping the evil fortress, which is always either ready to explode or inexplicable falling apart, while picking up lost companions along the way. But there are plenty of other possibilities. Don’t limit yourself.

In Inside Out the falling action is the scene where Riley exits the bus and reunites with her parents. This is the direct result of the climactic action. (Sadness taking control of the panel.) We see Riley form a new core memory and family island remerges in its improved version.

In the Lego Movie, Lord Business puts the Piece of Resistance on the Kragle causing the explosion that stops the micromanagers.

Don’t summarize the aftermath. By falling into exposition and telling, you cheat your readers out of a real ending. Stay with your main character. 

The Falling Action must:

  1. Be directly caused by the choice/action in the climactic scene. The relationship must be obvious. This is not the time to add a bizarre twist or introduce some new drama.
  2. Answer all questions raised in the climactic scene.
  3. All character should be accounted for. If someone is injured, make sure the reader knows what happened to him. No one gets left behind. And nothing is more annoying than an unnecessary cliffhanger
  4. Feel like a complete scene. Watch out for long paragraphs of exposition and telling. Show your character working through the next few moments.

Don’t rush through the falling action. Give the reader a chance to see the results of the hero’s quest. The story is nearly over. Time to finish strong.

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M.L. Keller is a freelance writer and editor. Her blog "The Manuscript Shredder" is focused on helping emerging writers hone their craft.

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