Structure Part 4: The Resolution

I’m digging through the book Story Engineering, by Larry Brooks and giving you the important bits. He offers six core competencies of a great story. I’m still working on the fourth core competency, Structure. Structure has four parts. I’ve already covered the first three parts, so go back if you need a refresher. Today I’m looking at Part 4: The Resolution.

In Part 4, no new information enters the story. “Everything the hero needs to know, to work with, or to work alongside (such as another character or resource) needs to have already been put in play. Part 4 shows how the hero summons the courage and growth to come forward with a solution to the problem, to reach the goal, to overcome inner obstacles in order to save the day or even the world, to attain the fame and riches associated with victory, and to generally beat down and conquer the story’s antagonistic force.” It’s the ending.

Here’s the important bit about this part: “The hero needs to be the primary catalyst in the resolution of the story.” The sidekick or love interest cannot take center stage here and solve the problem, then turn the hero and say, “thanks for the help.” The hero has to be the hero. He can’t be rescued, he’s the rescuer. He can end up dead at the end, but he had to have a the major part in the resolution before he kicked the bucket. Self-sacrifice is the highest act of honor, so dead heroes aren’t out of the question. (Although it plays havoc with sequels.)

The hero went from orphan to wanderer to warrior. At the end, he’s the martyr. He doesn’t HAVE to die (most of the time they don’t), but he does what needs to be done to reach the goal. He’s willing to die if that’s what it takes.
(This is Robert Langdon, the hero of The Da Vinci Code movie.)

In The Da Vinci Code, “Langdon solves all the riddles that define this book with his brilliant powers of deduction. This is his heroism–he is the guy who solves the puzzle and uncovers the truth, and then steps into the role of advocate for and champion of that truth as the authorities close in.”

Part 4 is takes up 25% of the book, or the last 75 pages. Again, that’s not set in stone, but it’s a guideline. If you take more than that, it’s okay. If you take 100 or more, that’s too many and your Second Plot Point fell at the wrong spot.

That concludes this brief outline of the four parts. There’s a lot more detail in the book, and I’d love to dig into more of it, but first I want to get back to the six core competencies and finish outlining them. Then I’ll come back and hit this structure thing harder, as it’s my favorite part of the book and I’m a structure junkie. I’ve already discussed the first four competencies (Concept, Character, Theme, and Story Structure). Five and six are Scene Execution and Writing Voice. Come on back for this exciting stuff.


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