Wednesday, October 7

Posted by Laurel Garver on Wednesday, October 07, 2015 2 comments
Denouement can involve untangling and weaving
(photo by 
DodgertonSkillhause from

I'm in currently in the midst of drafting the final chapter of my WIP, that this, the denouement section. I have the scenes roughed out, but my concern is how to handle weaving the threads without the chapter feeling like a series of info. dumps.

I realize that by nature, denouements have an info-dump-ish quality built in. Here are some of the ways the term is defined:

Oxford dictionaries:
The final part of a play, film, or narrative in which the strands of the plot are drawn together and matters are explained or resolved.

Brian Klems at The Writer's Dig
The denouement is the final outcome of the story, generally occurring after the climax of the plot. Often it’s where all the secrets (if there are any) are revealed and loose ends are tied up.

Merriam-Webster Word Central (the online kids' dictionary)
the final solution or untangling of the conflicts or difficulties that make up the plot of a literary work

The word's etymology is from the French, meaning "the untying." That term makes me think especially of mysteries, when the sleuth reveals how all the various plot elements you'd just read actually worked together, and s/he clears away all the false assumptions and red herrings to reveal just "whodunit" or perhaps, why the terrible crime happened. In many of the classic texts, like those of Agatha Christie, the sleuth monologues for pages, with occasional interruptions from his/her captive audience.

My fear is that some of these scenes could end up feeling like that. At the moment, I don't have tips, just questions for you:

How do you avoid info dumps in your final scenes? What books model well how to bring multiple threads to a satisfying conclusion without dragging or feeling too tell-heavy?


  1. Hmm, maybe I DON'T avoid those info dumps in my final scenes. lol I think I start explaining at least a few things before the end comes about. I do find myself getting bored with the wrapping up process, and just want to be finished already. But like you say, it's important to have a satisfying conclusion without Telling--so you have to Show it. Have a scene, a dialogue, some characters acting, which displays and wraps up everything. I really have to think about this myself, because I'm revising a novel where I'm going to have to refashion the ending. Right now I have it ending in one chapter. Way too rushed! ;o)

    1. I have a bunch of wrap up conversations, but with some actions mixed in that show the results of certain character's change arc. I'm challenging myself to leave some characters' trajectories implied rather than spelled out. I think my real fear was being too pat, tying up every last detail with a tidy bow, which can be annoying to a lot of readers. They want to imagine some of that stuff themselves, and be co-creators.