Prepared by: Patricia L. Johnson
Posted on: March 16, 2003
The aftermath follows the resolution or
high point of the story's
conflict. The aftermath may reflect back on the story. It gives a last
impression of the book and solidifies the theme. It is sometimes
referred to as
the anticlimax. It is a wrap-up that provides closure. It is sometimes
as a eulogy.
One aspect of aftermath - which is outside
the scope of this
exercise - is that
it is where loose ends and sub-plots are tied up and final explanations
given, as well as giving a sense of where the characters go on from
old "They lived happily ever after.")
After the crisis, the story's action
declines. The story moves
This aftermath wraps up any loose ends of the story. It gives a sense
completion and closure. Story details are put in order; concerns are
The aftermath winds the story down and finalizes it. It addresses what
to main characters after the climax. It may hint at what characters may
next. It can use an image, a thought, or an action to end the story. An
aftermath sometimes asks new questions.
In Charles Frazier's book, Cold Mountain,
a Confederate soldier
deserts the war after being wounded, and walks home through the Blue
Mountains. The climax is Inman's death when he is almost home, in the
his lover, Ada. The aftermath, which Frazier wrote as an epilogue,
home safe on her farm, she is now a mother to his child who he will
In the aftermath scene, we see Ada with her family around a fire where
children are dancing. Ada is reading a book about Baucis and Philemon.
is safe and well. Here is the last paragraph: "When Ada reached the
conclusion, and the old lovers after long years together in peace and
had turned to oak and linden, it was full dark. The night was growing
Ada put the book away. A crescent moon stood close upon Venus in the
children were sleepy, and morning would dawn as early and demanding as
Time to go inside and cover up the coals and pull in the latchstring."
We see that the family has gone on since
Inman died, that their
demanding. There is also a sense of loss. Their lives would be fuller
had lived. The aftermath gives a sense of how Inman's absence
main characters, especially Ada. They are safe on their farm, assured
tomorrow will bring more work. They have time to celebrate around a
fire at the
end of the day. The reader knows Ada has time to read and imagine in
We can imagine a safe future for Ada and her child by examining the
presented in the aftermath.
Exercise: Summarize the climax of a story
using about 150 words.
characters and how the main story question is resolved. The story you
the climax can be one you are working on now, or a new one you create
exercise. Keep in mind that a good aftermath depends on a skillful
use your imagination to develop interesting ideas. Then follow it with
well-crafted aftermath. Write the aftermath using 300 words. When you
critique, mention how successful the aftermath was at reflecting back
story. Did it pertain to the main story question mentioned in the
it address the characters? Did the aftermath provide closure? Did it
questions? Did it give a satisfying last impression of the story?
Patricia L. Johnson
Patricia L. Johnson's wrap-up
Posted on: March 25, 2003
Most of the aftermaths submitted succeeded
in providing closure,
questions and providing a wrap-up for the climax. Many submissions
complete aftermaths that showed characters moving on with their lives.
Several members mentioned how difficult
the exercise was. It was
write an ending for a story that was not completely written. The
exercise could use a new story idea or a completed story. One aftermath
provided information for a sequel. There were no formal epilogues used
form for aftermaths this time.
The more successful submissions gave
closure, mentioned the
asked questions within the aftermath. The climaxes covered the main
resolution, and allowed the aftermath to wrap-up instead of review or
the action of the climax. The use of a period of elapsed time between
climax and the aftermath helped separate and define the aftermath. Some
successful aftermaths gave a sense that activity occurred after the
before the events mentioned in the aftermath. Characters took new
Some of the less successful submissions
rewrote the climax as an
was possible to have too much immediate action in an aftermath. Some
relived the action of the climax instead of introducing new questions
providing closure. Then a continuation of the story emerged rather than
up. If the climax was too sketchy, it was difficult to determine if the
aftermath was effective.
There were some helpful extra results of
doing the aftermath
aftermath developed the ability to focus on a tight synopsis. Writing
details in a word limit can be beneficial in developing good query
member mentioned the aftermath exercise helped her to reexamine old
has written. Writing a new story idea in a fast climax summary opened
muse for some.
Thanks to each of you for your submissions
Patricia L. Johnson
Web site created by
Rhéal Nadeau and
the administrators of the Internet Writing Workshop.
Modified by Gayle Surrette.