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How to Write a Resolution for a Narrative Essay


If you have a compelling story to tell, a narrative essay might be the right format. These essays are often much more personal than argumentative or analytical essays, and frequently share details of personal struggles or beliefs. Without a resolution, your reader will be left hanging and might wonder what the point of the essay is. A well-crafted resolution can deliver the final punch to your paper and will help your reader understand the message you want to convey or the lessons you learned from the experience about which you have written.

Basic Narrative Outline

Before you begin to write, outline your essay. A good narrative essay tells a compelling story. You'll need to set the scene, build tension, present a conflict and provide commentary throughout the story. Once you've established these basic elements, your resolution can be much easier to write. For example, if your central conflict is between you and a difficult friend, your resolution should address how you ended the conflict or what you learned from it.

Developing a Thesis

Your thesis is a sentence or two addressing the main point of your essay, and it should guide your resolution. Narrative essays often have theses addressing what you've learned or why a particular story is relevant. For example, you might state that, "Through my disability, I've learned that hard work does pay off, but only when you reach out for help." Your resolution should re-address this point by providing final evidence of its truth or a final story demonstrating your thesis.

Building Tension

Although narrative essays are often less formal than some other essays, they still need basic structure and a coherent argument or narrative. Throughout your essay, you should build tension. For example, if you're writing about your struggle with a disability, you should dedicate each paragraph to a struggle you've faced or a way you've surmounted obstacles. This process of building tension makes for a more compelling resolution, because your resolution resolves this tension by, for example, showing how you beat the odds or arguing about the importance of the story you've shared.

The Resolution

Your resolution is the final paragraph of your essay or, if your essay is very long, the final few paragraphs. Specifically address the resolution of the conflict presented in your essay. Avoid restating your thesis or saying things like, "In conclusion..." or "I resolved this by..." Instead, your resolution should be more subtle and give the reader a sense of relief and clarity. You may also want to address any lingering questions or disagreements the reader might have. For example, if you are arguing that you have benefited from struggle, you might say something like, "Some people believe that struggle weakens you, but I've found that working through struggle creates a stronger and more resilient person."

About the Author

Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.