Resolution of a Detective Fiction Novel Outline
Welcome to the fifth post in the Outlining a Police Procedural blog series. Over the last 5 weeks, we’ve created an entire detective fiction novel outline by following a predetermined storyline.
If you haven’t followed the blog series from the beginning, I recommend you begin with the introduction so you can get a clear understanding of how this police procedural outline begins and ends. For your convenience, we’ve provided the links to every post in the series below.
Resolution is the 4th part of story structure as taught by author and story structure expert Larry Brooks. It’s the final piece of a storyline where the hero uncovers one last major part of the plot and then acts to reach the goal.
The resolution has one fundamental rule. No new information can enter the story. No new characters, no new evidence, no new twists. Resolution is about the hero taking all the information they have learned through the story including the identity of the villain and forming a plan to end the chase. But, before they do the hero needs to solve one more significant piece of the story. In our outline that significant portion is the location of the real villain.
To help you get a clearer understanding of resolution, I’ve included the 5 final milestone definitions. Our outline will cover each and every milestone.
5 Milestones in Resolution
14. Hero Becomes More Heroic and Clever: The hero presents courage in setting up the final confrontation against the villain.
15. Truth Emerges and/or Changes: All compiled information presents a clear picture of the hero.
16. Final Confrontation: The hero and villain face off in one final showdown.
17. Resolution: All character story arcs are tied off.
18. How the World Returns to Normal: The new normal is determined.
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At the end of part 3 attack, the hero finally tracked down the true identity of the prime suspect. Now, here in part 4 resolution the hero must find the suspect and take him down. This first part of resolution would be a series of scenes where the hero plans and begins to act on those plans. (14)
Tip: Depending on if you’re using an actual law enforcement agency in your storyline or if you’re using something else, the basis for the plan to locate the real killer could mainly rely on the lawful actions of the hero and his team. I bring this up because in real life the hero would need to think about evidence and entrapment and other elements of the law before they just rush out an rip some guy off the street. Bad guy or not.
Keep the particulars light if you do not want to spend time researching the law and what will stand up in court.
Tip: Use everything you’ve created for the hero up to this point in the story to locate and capture the villain. Consider every character, every character job description, every location as a possible tool to complete the search for the killer.
Tip: Through the entire resolution, it’s time to start sprinkling in the clues the hero has uncovered about the villain. If the villain was suspected of working in a particular industry, but your hero couldn’t pinpoint where or for how long, now is the time to explain that connection.
Start connecting all the clues and if you can, connect the clues as the hero and team determine the location of the villain. (15)
Hero and team determine the probable location of the villain.
Hero and team close in on the villain probably location.
Tip: Through a series of scenes, have the hero and his team close in on the probable location of the villain. There should be at least one near miss. After the near miss, consider having a back and forth between the hero and the villain point of view to ratchet up the suspense. The more back and forth, the better as the hero and team close in.
A chase ensues. (16)
Tip: There are hundreds of possibilities to have the hero close in on the villain. However you do it, create a chase scene. A chase scene is best when your story flips back and forth from the hero to the villain point of view.
Whether it’s a chase on foot or car, the villain sees what the hero is doing, and the hero sees what the villain is doing. Explain the action through those lenses.
The chase ends.
Tip: It’s your job to determine the end of the chase. Does the villain get caught, killed, or get away? What happens to the hero during the chase scene? Is he okay, hurt, killed?
Tip: Tie off all of the character storylines. (17) Do not leave a character storyline open for any of the side characters or villain. Each has to come to an end in some fashion.
Hero after the resolution in his new normal.
Tip: How does the hero feel about the entire situation? Relieved, free, overwhelmed, excited, sad, happy, etc.
Your closing scene should be of the hero and significant other if there is one in their new normal. If your hero was going on vacation before the investigation started, have the hero thinking about that vacation. If your hero’s significant other had a list of chores around the house that never got done, make that the new priority. Maybe the new priority is rest. That works too! (18)
Congratulations! If you’ve followed this entire series, you should have many pages that will someday become a novel. Don’t worry if you’re staring at your notes and they are a mess or poorly organized. That happens to all of us. In fact, when I made this outline, I wrote it out on paper first. (I’m old school) and let me tell you, it’s a mess as well.
But that’s okay because, in the next and final blog post of this series, we’re going to start cleaning this up with some tip on breaking the novel into smaller chunks from which you can focus on creating scenes. That’s the next step. Focus on chapters and scenes. You have a rough draft of your novel, now it’s time to dig into those clues, tie everything together.