RESOLUTION does not imply any solution to conflict.
Resolution is just the bit of the story that comes after the climax.
A character’s part in the resolution allows for plenty of characterization — we can still learn a lot.
DENOUEMENT is a special kind of ending.
The fate of the character is known.
Initial order is restored.
Denouement is closure. Closure can imply either empowerment or dis-empowerment for the main character.
There are two types of closure.
1. STRUCTURAL CLOSURE is a satisfactory round-up of plot.
2. PSYCHOLOGICAL CLOSURE brings the main character’s personal conflicts into balance. For characterization, this type of closure is normally more interesting.
In kidlit, these two types of closure normally coincide.
Many people associate kidlit with happy endings, but in contemporary works, there is not always a happy ending. Instead, we may see an APERTURE.
An aperture is a new opening, indicating further possibility for character development.
An aperture plot allows for many possible endings.
Readers might expect a sequel from such an ending, but this sort of ending would in fact be ruined by a sequel since readers are robbed of the chance to envision an ending for themselves.
Aperture has become very common in modern children’s literature. Some even say that it is now banal.
To counteract the banality, some modern stories now return to a happy ending, but with an ironic undertone.
– The Rhetoric of Character In Children’s Literature by Maria Nikolajeva
- If you are writing a plot-driven genre story make sure all your major themes/plot elements are introduced in the first third, which you can call the introduction.
- Develop your themes and characters in your second third, the development.
- Resolve your themes, mysteries and so on in the final third, the resolution.
– Michael Moorcock
We love heroes and heroines from Peter Rabbit to Harry Potter because we know that no matter how bad things get, they will return stronger and happier through what they’ve learnt, and that their experiences will enable them to restore justice. Every work of fiction that we take to our hearts, up to and including Jane Eyre, The Odyssey or Pride and Prejudice, follows this template. A great work of tragic fiction brings about catharsis, but on the whole, we need the consolations of children’s fiction far more.
Not every classic has what you might call a conventional happy ending: the boy in Roald Dahl’s The Witches gets turned into a mouse, and never returns; at the finale of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials, Will and Lyra must be parted for ever; the hero of John Boyne’s The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas chooses to die in the gas chambers with his imprisoned friend. Though all have been made into successful films, my guess is that none of these novels will continue to be read with enthusiasm by future generations because of the way they end.
Morals have long been the conclusion of fables and fairy tales aimed at kids. And today’s TV shows and movies are no different — they often weave lessons for the younger generation into their narratives. But do children actually absorb these messages, or do these endings just help parents feel better about the media their kids consume?
I don’t think a happy ending should be one of the requirements of a children’s book. Kids want their books to reflect reality. They know that the bully doesn’t always get his comeuppance in the end.
– Robert Cormier