Story at a Glance

Image of gavel

Resolved, or concluded?

Here’s an example of the power of word choice in framing how you think about something.

I made the conscious choice years ago to start referring to the end of a story as the resolution rather than the conclusion, because it better reflects and reminds me of its purpose, and the nature of story in general.

“Conclusion” often is used simply to refer to the end of something, which isn’t helpful for constructing a story at all. Its original sense *is* helpful—a final inference or argument from supporting propositions, e.g. “in conclusion”—since a story that resonates often, even usually, does end up making a point, having “a moral of the story” that draws from the actions leading up to it.

But “resolution” is about resolving something—simplifying something complex, answering a question, bringing release and order out of tension and chaos. It reminds me that its function is to straighten something out—which means something had to get knocked out of whack first. What got knocked out of whack, Clint? Why? Huh, huh?

Something has to be different at the end from the beginning, or you have no story. “Resolution” helps me keep that in mind more than “conclusion” does. I do have to say, though, that as a result of this, I have less of an issue with “conclusion” than I did before, keeping that original “inference” definition in mind. Perhaps it’s even better to ask: What’s my resolution, and what’s its conclusion?

You may have concluded I put too much thought into this. It wouldn’t be the first time. But there’s no doubt story turns on choices, including the mental tricks we use to shape it.

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