Wednesday, May 16, 2012


Plot is the structure that holds up all fiction. It is the bones of the story that holds the rest of the elements together. The theme winds around the plot, just as the characters are developed within the plot. A plot is described as a series of events deliberately arranged so as to reveal their dramatic, thematic, and emotional significance. The plot's concern is "what, how, and why," with scenes ordered to highlight the workings of cause and effect. If it is a plot we read in a story, we ask why. Our desire to know what happened next will keep us turning the pages.

The plot structure by Aristotle defines an inverted check mark. We start with a dramatic question at the base, then it rises with bouts of conflicts, then just before the peak there is the epiphany and arrives at the peak which is the goal, and falls again to the resolution.

1. dramatic question: What does the protagonist want?
2. conflicts: obstacles to keep protagonist from arriving at his goal.
3. epiphany: a totally new understanding of reality.
4. goal: arrival at protagonist's desire.
5. resolution: ties up all the loose ends and finalizes story.

Plots are like puzzles with threads woven through the story. Be careful, however, that you don't let your threads go everywhere, leaving the reader scrambling to figure it out. Make sure your plot is focused and the conflicts are arranged in an increasing level of intensity.

Given this plot structure, make up a story with a plot following this outline. You can have as many conflicts as you need to create tension in the story. Let me know what you've created.

"A story has to be a good date, because the reader can stop at any time... Remember, readers are selfish and have no compulsion to be decent about anything." ~~ Kurt Vonnegut


  1. What a great explanation, Karen. Thank you.

    1. Talli: Thanks... it's Aristotle who gets the credit. LOL!