The plot is the sequence of events in a story.
Less experienced readers often read only for plot; better readers also consider what revelations about life or character are presented by means of the plot.
Plot, therefore, is often best studied in terms of its function or its relationship to the total meaning of the story.
The analysis of the central conflict of a story is often very helpful in determining what is really at issue in the story.
In most stories:
- The main character, the protagonist, has a certain motivation or goal, but obstacles arise which may prevent the protagonist from achieving this goal.
- Conflict results. Forces working against the protagonist are called the antagonists.
- The conflict that results may be both internal and external for the protagonist and may result in a dilemma (a situation where one must choose between two equally undesirable courses of action).
- As the suspense builds, the writer may plant clues to forecast the ending. This technique is called foreshadowing.
What Goes into a Plot?
It's not always a straight line from the beginning to the end of a story.
- Exposition: It is the information needed to understand a story. It is an introduction that includes the setting—time and place; introduces main characters; provides background information; sets scene; establishes potential for conflict. (no action)
- Rising point: It is the point at which the exposition ends and the first action begins; it is the catalyst that begins the major conflict.
- Complication or Rising events/action or Action Dynamics: It is a series of events that lead to the climax. Characters engage in conflicts; antagonism is heightened.
- Climax: It is the major event of the story, the problem itself; the turning point that occurs just before characters try to resolve the complication. It is moment of greatest emotional intensity, the highest point in the story where there is the most suspense, turning point.
- Falling Events/Action: It is the set of events that bring the story to a close; the immediate consequences of the crisis.
- Resolution/Denouement: the conclusion that includes unraveling of tensions; most questions answered; characters left to deal with consequences of conflicts. It is what happens at the end / closure. (no action)
Good stories always have all the plot elements in them.
Reading Strategies and Literary Elements Transparency
The Elements of Plot Development
Page Created on September 8, 1998
Last updated on April 1, 2009
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