Creative Writing - Structure

Creative Writing

The resolution

Working with Resolutions

A successful resolution satisfies the reader. It should ensure that all threads of action in the story are tied up. Writers may use a range of strategies, including, but not restricted, to:

  • humour;
  • wrap up on every character;
  • happily ever after ending;
  • revisiting the opening;
  • reflection on the action from the perspective of a significant character;
  • cliff-hanger;
  • the twist;
  • a question; and
  • the unsatisfactory conclusion (sometimes this is a deliberate effect – very difficult to do well).

The resolution is the last taste the reader has of your story. Make it sweetly satisfying, unpredictable and a little bit moreish.

"The first paragraph makes the reader buy the book. The last paragraph makes them read the next book."

It is really important that your story ends in a convincing way. ‘I woke up and it was all a dream …’ has been eternally banned by the goddess of creative writing.  However, she has permitted any of the following ideas to be used! See the Resolutions resource.

Transformation & metamorphosis

Characters often change at the end of a story. Perhaps circumstances have made them change or they have learned something about themselves. Sometimes this transformation is an inner personality change or it can be an outward physical change. This is related to the Epiphany structure, where the action of the resolution can be related back to a single point in time,  for example when Mr Hyde drinks the potion, the ghosts appear to Scrooge, Elizabeth Bennet reads Darcy’s letter and realises her mistake. See the Transformations & metamorphosis resource.

Walking Debate

This activity is based on Roald Dahl’s story ‘The Hitchhiker’. It is a Philosophy for Children (P4C) approach and it encourages pupils to ask deeper and meatier questions about character, how we as individuals respond to them and critically, and how a skilful writer can manipulate the reader’s reaction and judgements, thereby leading us to a deeper understanding of our own ways of reasoning.  

Walking debate can be used to help pupils to focus on the way a writer can manipulate the reader, and the impact of the story on the audience, as well as building in a PD/Citizenship focus.  

The download provides instructions for the walking debate for this story, but this approach can be used within many different contexts. 

This lesson could be followed up with a more in-depth look at the way Road Dahl has constructed the story to lead the reader to the conclusions and judgements we have reached by the end, e.g. consider how he has written the driver sympathetically and the way the policeman is presented as an unpleasant character and how this impacts on our reaction to the end result. 

Johari window

The Johari window is a technique used to help people better understand their relationship with themselves and others. It was created in 1955 by psychologists Joseph Luft (1916–2014) and Harrington Ingham (1916–1995). It can be adapted and be used to develop characters and relationships in fiction writing.

In a short story form, you might choose to use a five-stage structure, or a pivotal ‘epiphany’ or moment of revelation or decision. Whichever structure you use, a character is likely to be dynamic rather than static. In other words, there will be a change in the character or the character’s relationships, as a result of the action in the story. The Johari window resource allows you and/or individual pupils in your classes to explore the type and extent of the changes that occur throughout the story.

The window begins with four quarters. The proportions of each window change as the action unfolds and the character becomes more self-aware or other characters get to know them better. 

The idea is to always push the internal boundaries to enlarge the OPEN and shrink the HIDDEN, BLIND and DARK panes of the window.

  Known to others Unknown to others


Characteristics and traits that the character knows about themselves, and is happy to share with others

Characteristics and traits that the character knows about themselves, but is unwilling to expose to others


Characteristics and traits that the character does not know about themselves, but other people recognise to be true of them

Characteristics and traits that neither the character themselves, nor the people who know them, know about the character. These characteristics are exposed through unexpected action and are unpredictable.

Classroom Activity

Pupils could use the Johari window resource to track the changes they want their main character/s to go through by the end of their story. In this way, they will find it much easier to make the changes believable, by planting subtle clues in their story as they move through from the beginning to the conclusion.


Classroom Activity

Group activity

Give your pupils the last paragraph or line of a short story. You might wish use some of the examples in the Endings resource.

Ask pupils to plan the story that builds to the resolution. Then share their story with another pair. Can they make a better story by combining ideas from the two groups? Repeat with two groups of 4. Pupils should then share their big group's final version of the plan with the whole class.

Depending on the experience/ability of the class, you may decide to continue this as a modelled writing or shared modelled or as an independent writing exercise.