Last Updated on July 20, 2022 by Dr Sharon Baisil MD
In writing, falling action is the resolution of the complications created by the rising action. It’s the aftermath of the main conflict and, as such, should be swift and concise.
In this blog post, I will provide 12 examples of falling action from popular books to give you a better understanding of what it entails. Additionally, I’ll explore why falling action is important in plot development and character arcs. So if you’re looking to add some depth to your own stories, read on!
Definition of falling action in a story
The falling action is the section of a story that comes after the climax. This part usually has a more relaxed tone, as the conflict has been resolved.
It can be anything from characters returning to their normal lives to tying up loose ends and resolving any conflicts that remain. Falling action can be broken down into three main categories: epilogue, denouement, and resolution.
An epilogue is a section of falling action that comes after the main story. It’s usually used to provide closure for the characters and readers alike.
The denouement is the part of the falling action where all the loose ends are tied up. This can include anything from revealing the culprit in a mystery novel to resolving romantic conflicts.
The resolution is the final part of falling action, where the main conflict is finally resolved. This can be in the form of a battle, a conversation, or even a simple gesture.
12 Examples of Falling Action in Popular Books
To give you a better understanding of falling action, I have collected 12 examples from popular books. Note that these are just a few examples, and there are countless others out there.
#1 The Hunger Games
After the climactic battle against Cato, Katniss returns home to District 12 and finally reunites with her family.
In this example, the falling action is relatively short and consists mainly of Katniss’ homecoming. However, it’s an important moment in terms of her character arc, as she has finally come full circle from being a hunted tribute to becoming the victor.
#2 Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
After defeating Quirrell, Harry returns to the Dursleys’ house and finally learns the truth about his family.
Here, falling action is used to resolve the main conflict (Quirrell) and any lingering elements of the plot (Harry’s family). It also sets up the story for its sequel, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
#3 The Catcher in the Rye
After Holden is kicked out of boarding school, he goes on a journey across America in search of his brother. He eventually returns home and confronts his father about why he was sent away.
J. D. Salinger uses falling action to resolve the novel’s main conflict (Holden’s expulsion from school) and set up the story for its sequel, Franny and Zooey.
#4 A Song of Ice and Fire
After the Battle of Blackwater, Tyrion can finally confront his father about his crimes.
In this example, falling action is used to resolve the main conflict (Tyrion’s confrontation with Tywin) and any remaining plot threads. It also sets up the sequel, A Dance with Dragons.
#5 Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope
After destroying the Death Star, Luke returns to Yavin IV and is hailed as a hero.
In this example, falling action is used to resolve the main conflict (the battle against the Death Star) and set up the story for its sequel, Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back.
#6 Boondock Saints
After defeating the mobsters, the MacManus brothers return to their home in Boston.
In this example, falling action is used to resolve the main conflict (the MacManus brothers’ fight against the mob) and set up the story for its sequel, The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day.
After defeating the Harkonnens, Paul Atreides has crowned Emperor of the Known Universe.
Here, falling action is used to resolve the main conflict (the Harkonnens’ occupation of Arrakis) and any remaining plot threads. It also sets up the story for its sequels, Dune Messiah and Children of Dune.
#8 Fahrenheit 451
After being captured by the firemen, Guy Montag is brought in for questioning.
In this example, falling action is used to resolve the main conflict (Guy’s capture by the firemen) and set up the story for its sequel, Fahrenheit 1984.
#9 The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
After being rescued from Earth, Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect travel to the Vogon homeworld.
In this example, falling action is used to resolve the main conflict (Arthur and Ford’s escape from Earth) and any remaining plot threads. It also sets up the story for its sequels, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, Life, the Universe, and Everything, So Long, Thanks for All the Fish, and Mostly Harmless.
#10 Grapes of Wrath
After being evicted from their farm, the Joad family sets out for California.
In this example, falling action is used to resolve the main conflict (the Joads’ eviction from their farm) and any remaining plot threads. John Steinbeck also uses falling action to provide a sense of closure for the main character.
#11 The Great Gatsby
After Jay Gatsby’s death, Nick leaves West Egg and moves to Connecticut.
In this example, falling action is used to resolve the main conflict (Jay Gatsby’s death) as well as any remaining plot threads.
#12 Rites of Passage
After being injured in a hunting accident, Richard Mason is brought back to the village.
In this example, falling action is used to resolve the main conflict (Richard’s injury) and set up the story’s sequel, The African Queen.
Why does falling action matter in terms of plot development and character arcs?
The Freytag pyramid consists of five parts: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. Among these, Gustav Freytag considers falling action as the most important component, as it provides a sense of closure for both the plot and the characters.
Readers would be left hanging without falling action, wondering what happened to the characters after the story’s climax. This can also be seen as an opportunity for writers to hint at future events or set up sequels.
Falling action can also help tie up loose ends and provide a sense of finality for the story. It’s a way of wrapping things up in a neat and satisfying package, giving readers a sense of completeness.
6 Expert Tips for writing a falling action
If you’re struggling to write falling action, here are a few tips to help you out:
#1 Resolve the main conflict
This is arguably the most important part of falling action, as it provides a sense of closure for both the plot structure and the main characters. You need to resolve the main conflict in a satisfying way so that readers feel like they’ve come to a proper conclusion. The protagonist and antagonist should ideally resolve, as should any other plot threads.
#2 Tie up loose ends
One of the things that falling action is good for is tying up loose ends. You don’t want your readers feeling like something’s been left unresolved, so make sure you take care of everything in a neat and tidy way.
#3 Provide a sense of finality
A good falling action scene will leave readers with a feeling of finality, giving them a sense that the story has come to an end. This is your opportunity to provide a satisfying conclusion for your readers, so make sure you take advantage of it.
#4 Make sure the falling action is consistent with the tone of your story
The falling action should be consistent with the tone of your story, providing a sense of closure and finality. If it’s not, readers will feel like something’s been left unresolved.
#5 Don’t introduce new plot threads
Falling action is not the time for introducing new plot threads, as it will only confuse and frustrate your readers. Stick to resolving the main conflict and any remaining plot threads, and save the new stuff for later.
#6 Keep it concise
Falling action doesn’t need to be too long, so keep it concise and to the point. You don’t want to bore your readers with unnecessary details or information.
As you can see, falling action is an important part of any story. It provides a sense of closure for both the plot and the characters and resolves any remaining plot threads. Use it to your advantage to provide a satisfying conclusion for your readers. Do you have a favorite falling action moment from a book? Let me know in the comments below! 🙂
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