How important are conflict and resolution to the success of a fictional short story?

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thanatassa's profile pic

thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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The majority of successful works of fiction, whether short or long, tend to have plots based on conflict and resolution. The main exception to this is a genre known as the picaresque, which follows the exploits of a colorful protagonist (a "picaro") through a series of (often comic or adventurous) episodes. Conflict and resolution, and often a desire to see how a conflict will be resolved, are key features which motivate a reader to move through a story from start to finish. They form a structural skeleton around which the edifice of a work is constructed; without this structure, many stories would just ramble on pointlessly.

mkoren's profile pic

mkoren | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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Conflict and resolution are essential components to a short, fictional story. Such stories have several other components as well. 

Generally, there are five parts to a short story. In the first part, called the exposition, the stage of the story is set. This is followed by the rising action, which should include the conflict. The turning point is the key event or events in the story. The falling action comes after the turning point. The reader generally knows the outcome at this point. The last part of the story is called the resolution. In this part, all of the events of the story are wrapped up and completed.

When writing a short, fictional story, it is important to establish a plot. Oftentimes, the plot involves some sort of conflict that has a resolution to it at the end of the story. It is essential to fully develop the plot by describing the characteristics, including the motives of the characters. Explaining the setting also helps with the development of the story. By understanding the characters, the conflict in the story is revealed. A good author will take the readers on a path where they can understand the motives of the characters and see how events unfold to resolve the conflict that the author created in the story.

Conflict and resolution are essential features to most short, fictional stories.


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