How’s your summer going? Mine is great so far and I’ve had a lot of time to write, which is great for both of us. I’m sorry about posting this late, but I was in a car for what seems like half of time itself without wifi.
In this chapter, I’m going to go through what falling actions are, and where they are on the plot diagram.
If you look at the plot diagram, the next box we are moving on to is labelled, “Falling Action”. Really, there can be way more than one falling action, but that doesn’t mean there has to be. The diagram only has room for one, though, so I recommend just making a list of your falling actions on another sheet of paper if you can’t fit it all on the sheet. *
A falling action is an event that comes after the climax, rapidly leading to the resolution. Typically, these move way faster than rising actions because there tend to be less of them, and the events tend to be smaller. If an author includes a huge event in the story after the climax, it is usually the Magic flight (see chapter 4 for more detail), or the resolution itself, where the story goes out with a bang. The falling actions however, offer a few different things to you as a writer, since their purposes vary.
In your climax, something was probably revealed that was formerly unknown to the character or the reader. After the climax, your reader will be dying for more, but they will also be interested in what happens next with this new information.
This is one of those places that you can surprise them. They don’t think that anything big is going to come again right after reading your climax, so drop another bomb on them. When they think that the information they got from the climax is going to lead the character somewhere interesting, then turn it around on them, and lead them somewhere ten times more interesting. Remember, though, that your climax should still be huge compared to this. Your main conflict is what needs to drive your climax, and maybe a small conflict is what will drive your falling action revelations.
Basically, just reveal something new that can lead to a different resolution than they thought.
Lead into a sequel
If you are reading a series, you will notice that the first book is always relatively close to a stand-alone book. That is, until the ending.
If you are writing a series, this is where you show the reader that. If you plan to write another book, then throughout the book you should provide information that could be used in a sequel, but the falling actions are another important tool to use. At the end of your climax, you should leave something up to mystery. Maybe have a huge blow out with a character who is involved in the murder, but never reveal who his or her partner in crime is. This could lead to a whole book about them and what they do.
So in your falling actions, you should lead to that. Leave the reader hanging, but also leave them with a resolution.
For example, in Divergent, the story ends with (SPOILER ALERT) Tris and Four on a train, after everything blew up around them. It is resolved because everything has come to a moment of peace and wait, even if only for a second, but the reader still has to wonder what happens when the train reaches the end of the track.
And then they will think, “Well that book was good. And I wonder what happens next. Maybe the next book will be good too, and I’ll get to see what happens…”
See where I’m going with this?
The falling actions can be used as a way to let the reader recover from what they just read, too. The point of the rising actions is to build tension in the reader while building up the conflict and the characters, so when they get to the climax they can’t take their eyes off the page. But what about afterwards? It’s not like they are going to want to look away from the book after that climax, but you have to give them some time to process the information they just got.
Add in a scene or two that is simple and only works with what just happened, not adding new information, so that your reader doesn’t get confused. But don’t make it too long, because you don’t want to bore them when they want to know what happens next. You don’t want them to start skipping over the details just because they want to move on with the story.
Just use it as a way for the reader to really process everything just happened and let go of all of that tension that you built up in the story, all of the expectation and curiosity that was just resolved.
The falling actions can be quick or slow, but they have many purposes and many ways that you can use them to your advantage. I like to think of the falling actions as the aftermath of the second climax (Magic Flight). And the second climax is kind of the aftermath of the first, so the falling actions are really the aftermath of the aftermath of the Climax.
That probably only makes sense in my head, though.
I hope this helps and keep an eye out in July for the publication of the sequel to Looking for Lily, Where Things Burn!
*The link from which the plot diagram photo was found is here: http://www.portnet.k12.ny.us/Page/10210 . I don’t any rights to this photo so I’m giving this website the credit, but you should check out that site for more things like it that can help with writing:)