Today on the Writer’s Glossary…
The denouement is, put simply, the ending. It’s the point in your story, when all the loose threads are tied together. Scooby
Doo was a great believer in a denouement, when everything was niftily explained and the baddie shook their fist at those pesky kids.
A wedding is often the denouement of a romance, such as Pride and Prejudice, whilst The Lord of the Rings had a million and one kingships, weddings and things to wrap up, including one last battle for Hobbiton and the sailing off to the land of the elves. It all happens after the action and gives the reader a feeling of satisfaction.
Not all stories end happily or even tie-up neatly, but they still have a denouement, which releases tension and gives a sense of an ending for the reader. Even a cliffhanger, usually happens after the main story has ended and then the tension is raised again, ready for the sequel or just to add an air of ambiguity – think the Italian Job or Inception.