What is a plot in the story

what is a plot in the story

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Aug 30, The plot describes the events and their significance as the story unfolds. There are five different parts to the plot: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. These five. Plot is the way an author creates and organizes a chain of events in a narrative. In short, plot is the foundation of a story. Some describe it as the "what" of a text (whereas the characters are the "who" and the theme is the "why"). This is the basic plot definition.

So, what whta a plot in fiction? Let's check your understanding with a pop quiz: which of the following is the best example of a plot? A boy finds a new family in a traveling circus run plor orphans. An immigrant comes to the United States to start a plo life. A king dies and then the queen dies out of grief. A high school storg discovers love from an unexpected source: a centuries-old vampire.

But what about a, b, and d? Well, strictly speaking, those are a mix of themes and premises, but the confusion is entirely understandable. Storytelling theory is packed with confusingly similar terms and as you get further into the nuts and bolts of writing narrative, it helps to know the difference. Plot is the chain of connected events that make up a narrative.

Some will say that if characters are the plo and theme ih the whythen the plot is the what of the story. It is not a series of random incidents. Generally, there must be a cause-and-effect relationship between the events and the plot points. The king died and then the queen diedfor instance, is not a plot, as E. Forster notes. But the king died and then the queen died out of grief stkry one because it reveals a causality in the sequence of scenes.

Plot is an incredibly complex thing. It is a key element what is a plot in the story establishing your book in the literary community and into the hearts of readers. Th as humans have become increasingly story awareespecially within the w age, where countless stories are only a click awayand readers come to stpry story with high expectations, both on the conscious and subconscious level.

You might be thinking that that sounds very similar to a recitation of events. To get it closer to being a story, we need ppot consider its partner-in-crime: the plot structure. This takes us straight to plot structure: the organization of events in a story.

There's a reason fhe no good story has its climax at the start whhat resolves its major conflicts in the middle and spends the last half filling in the exposition!

One of the most prevalent theories for a universal plot structure comes from German novelist Gustav Freytag, who proposed a five-stage architecture for all stories:. We dive deeper into each of these five stages in this article on story structure.

As you go through these plot examples, see if you can how to bypass school internet filter the plot diagram to understand where each falls in the context of its plot structure. Since the dawn of time, there have been millions of unique stories by writers, bards, and raconteurs.

But can all of them be grouped into just a few master plots? According to journalist Christopher Booker, xtory can. A protagonist must defeat a threat to society.

Sound familiar? Someone poor becomes someone rich or successful. It gives readers a chance to participate in a universally beloved pastime: rooting for the underdog. The protagonist and friends go out in search of something. It could be a MacGuffin such as Indiana Jones searching for the Crystal Skullwhich is by far plott of the most famous variations. Or it could be a fellow fish, such as in Finding Nemo!

No matter what, the object at the end of the journey is the Holy Grail of this plot type, so to speak. The protagonist and friends go out on a journey with a return ticket. Is that. This is just one sample. Author John Gardner once said that there are only two stories in the world: a man goes on a journey, and a stranger comes to town.

Meanwhile, writer Plor Tobias came up with 20 total master plots while French author Georges Polti topped that with 36 dramatic situations that can be found in fiction. That said, it goes without saying that there are infinite ways to actually write a plot. Slumdog Millionaire and Jane Eyre might both, for instance, involve rags-to-riches stories. Plotting a book invariably brings up the controversial topic of outlining. Should you properly outline a book or not?

Is there a build-up missing here and there? It's easier to tell when you've outlined the main discoveries that the reader and the character will make. If you're interested in learning more about the outlining phase, you can read this post that's atory about how to outline a novel. A story needs stakes to get a reader invested. To ensure that happens, the stakes must be significant. Why should the protagonist care beyond generally thd a decent person?

Create fascinating characters that your readers will love Get started now. That author probably fell into one of the biggest temptations of plotting: letting the plot drive the characters. In other words, even plot twists need to make sense first and foremost. Forcing the plot along will result in characters how to read an mri of brain behave falsely stoey readers' eyes what is a plot in the story which will make the whole story seem hollow.

What's your experience with plotting a book? Have any questions about anything related to plot? Leave us your thoughts in the comments below! The ultimate bank of book ideas ripe and ready for writing. Plus 10 thw ways to come up with even more of your own.

Discover how writers can use "in medias res" openings whats the coldest place on earth jumpstart their stories. Features examples from books and films. Understand everything from word count to common characteristics with this guide that answers the question on everyone's mind: what is a qhat, really?

Want to know how to become a better writer? Check out our 20 essential tips and hacks. What makes a tragic hero, tragic? In this post, we'll tell you everything you ever wanted to know about this literary archetype, including examples from literature. Learn how to write a graphic novel that readers will want to read and illustrators will want to illustrate.

Reedsy is more than just a blog. Become a member today to discover how we can help you publish a beautiful book. Posted on Jun 15, What is plot?

The million-dollar question: what is plot? Asked and answered amwriting Ahat to tweet! Free course: Mastering the 3-Act Structure Learn the essential elements of story structure with this online course. Pop Quiz: can you guess what is the source of carbon monoxide five most popular forms that plot takes?

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What Is Plot? Definition and Overview

The plot is, arguably, the most important element of a story. It is literally the sequence of events and, in that sequence, we learn more about the characters, the setting, and the moral of the story. In a way, the plot is the trunk from which all the other elements of a . Jun 15, Plot is the chain of connected events that make up a narrative. It refers to what actually occurs in a story and is one of storytellings major pillars. Some will say that if characters are the who and theme is the why, then the plot is the what of the story. It is not a series of random incidents.

Plot is the sequence of interconnected events within the story of a play, novel, film, epic, or other narrative literary work. More than simply an account of what happened, plot reveals the cause-and-effect relationships between the events that occur. Perhaps the best way to say what a plot is would be to compare it to a story.

The two terms are closely related to one another, and as a result, many people often use the terms interchangeablybut they're actually different. A story is a series of events; it tells us what happened. A plot, on the other hand, tells us how the events are connected to one another and why the story unfolded in the way that it did.

In Aspects of the Novel, E. Forster uses the following examples to distinguish between story and plot:. The time-sequence is preserved, but the sense of causality overshadows it. Therefore, when examining a plot, it's helpful to look for events that change the direction of the story and consider how one event leads to another.

For nearly as long as there have been narratives with plots, there have been people who have tried to analyze and describe the structure of plots. Below we describe two of the most well-known attempts to articulate the general structure of plot. Freytag originally developed this theory as a way of describing the plots of plays at a time when most plays were divided into five acts, but his five-layered "pyramid" can also be used to analyze the plots of other kinds of stories, including novels, short stories, films, and television shows.

While Freytag's pyramid is very handy, not every work of literature fits neatly into its structure. In fact, many modernist and post-modern writers intentionally subvert the standard narrative and plot structure that Freytag's pyramid represents. In his book The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories, Christopher Booker outlines an overarching "meta-plot" which he argues can be used to describe the plot structure of almost every story.

Like Freytag's pyramid, Booker's meta-plot has five stages:. Of course, like Freytag's Pyramid, Booker's meta-plot isn't actually a fool-proof way of describing the structure of every plot, but rather an attempt to describe structural elements that many if not most plots have in common. In addition to analyzing the general structure of plots, many scholars and critics have attempted to describe the different types of plot that serve as the basis of most narratives.

Within the overarching structure of Booker's "meta-plot" as described above , Booker argues that plot types can be further subdivided into the following seven categories. Booker himself borrows most of these definitions of plot types from much earlier writers, such as Aristotle.

Here's a closer look at each of the seven types:. As you can probably see, there's lots of room for these categories to overlap.

This is one of the problems with trying to create any sort of categorization scheme for plots such as thisan issue we'll cover in greater detail below.

The Hero's Journey is an attempt to describe a narrative archetype , or a common plot type that has specific details and structure also known as a monomyth. The Hero's Journey plot follows a protagonist's journey from the known to the unknown, and back to the known world again. The journey can be a literal one, as in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, or a purely metaphorical one.

Regardless, the protagonist is a changed person by the end of the story. Each of these theorists divides The Hero's Journey into slightly different stages Campbell identifies 17 stages, whereas Vogler finds 12 stages and Leeming and Cousineau use just 8. Below, we'll take a closer look at the 12 stages that Vogler outlines in his analysis of this plot type:. Apart from the plot types described above the "Hero's Journey" and Booker's seven basic plots , there are a couple common plot types worth mentioning.

When a story uses one of the following plots, it usually means that it belongs to a specific genre of literatureso these plot structures can be thought of as being specific to their respective genres. In addition to Freytag, Booker, and Campbell, many other theorists and literary critics have created systems classifying different kinds of plot structures.

Among the best known are:. Some critics argue that though archetypal plot structures can be useful tools for both writers and readers, we shouldn't rely on them too heavily when analyzing a work of literature. As a result, Booker tends to idealize overly simplistic stories and Hollywood films in particular , instead of analyzing more complex stories that may not fit the conventions of his seven plot types.

Kakutani argues that, as a result of this approach, Booker undervalues modern and contemporary writers who structure their plots in different and innovative ways. Kakutani's argument is a reminder that while some great works of literature may follow archetypal plot structures, they may also have unconventional plot structures that defy categorization. Authors who use nonlinear structures or multiple narrators often intentionally create stories that do not perfectly fit any of the "plot types" discussed above.

Even William Shakespeare, who wrote many of his plays following the traditional structures for tragedies and comedies, authored several "problem plays," which many scholars struggle to categorize as strictly tragedy or comedy: All's Well That Ends Well , Measure for Measure , Troilus and Cressida, The Winter's Tale , Timon of Athens, and The Merchant of Venice are all examples of "problem plays. The plot of The Hobbit closely follows the structure of a typical hero's journey.

William Shakespeare's play, Twelfth Night , is generally described as a comedy and follows what Booker would call comedic plot structure. At the beginning of the play, the protagonist, Viola is shipwrecked far from home in the kingdom of Illyria. Her twin brother, Sebastian, appears to have died in the storm. Viola disguises herself as a boy, calls herself Cesario, and gets a job as the servant of Count Orsino, who is in love with the Lady Olivia.

When Orsino sends Cesario to deliver romantic messages to Olivia on his behalf, Olivia falls in love with Cesario. Meanwhile, Viola falls in love with Orsino, but she cannot confess her love without revealing her disguise. In another subplot, Olivia's uncle Toby and his friend Sir Andrew Aguecheek persuade the servant Maria to play a prank convincing another servant, Malvolio, that Olivia loves him.

The plot thickens when Sebastian Viola's lost twin arrives in town and marries Olivia, who believes she is marrying Cesario. At the end of the play, Viola is reunited with her brother, reveals her identity, and confesses her love to Orsino, who marries her.

In spite of the chaos, misunderstandings, and challenges the characters face in the early part of the plota source of much of the play's humor Twelfth Night reaches an orderly conclusion and ends with two marriages.

William Shakespeare's play Macbeth follows the tragic plot structure. The tragic hero , Macbeth, is a Scottish nobleman, who receives a prophecy from three witches saying that he will become the Thane of Cawdor and eventually the King. He does, and is named King. Later, to ensure that Macbeth will remain king, they also order the assassination of the nobleman Banquo, his son, and the wife and children of the nobleman Macduff.

However, as Macbeth protects his throne in ever more bloody ways, Lady Macbeth begins to go mad with guilt. Macbeth consults the witches again, and they reassure him that "no man from woman born can harm Macbeth" and that he will not be defeated until the "wood begins to move" to Dunsinane castle.

Therefore, Macbeth is reassured that he is invincible. Lady Macbeth never recovers from her guilt and commits suicide, and Macbeth feels numb and empty, even as he is certain he can never be killed.

Meanwhile an army led by Duncan's son Malcolm, their number camouflaged by the branches they carry, so that they look like a moving forest, approaches Dunsinane. In the fighting Macduff reveals he was born by cesarian section, and kills Macbeth. Macbeth's mistake hamartia is his unrelenting ambition to be king, and his trust in the witches' prophecies. He realizes his mistake in a moment of anagnorisis when the forest full of camouflaged soldiers seems to be moving, and he experiences a reversal of fate peripeteia when he is defeated by Macduff.

Charles Dickens' novel A Christmas Carol is an example of the "rebirth" plot. The novel's protagonist is the miserable, selfish businessman Ebenezer Scrooge, who mistreats his clerk, Bob Cratchit, who is a loving father struggling to support his family. Scrooge scoffs at the notion that Christmas is a time for joy, love, and generosity. But on Christmas Eve, he is visited by the ghost of his deceased business partner, who warns Scrooge that if he does not change his ways, his spirit will be condemned to wander the earth as a ghost.

With these ghosts, Scrooge revisits lonely and joyful times of his youth, sees Cratchit celebrating Christmas with his loved ones, and finally foresees his own lonely death. Scrooge awakes on Christmas morning and resolves to change his ways.

He not only celebrates Christmas with the Cratchits, but embraces the Christmas spirit of love and generosity all year long. By the end of the novel, Scrooge has been "reborn" through acts of generosity and love. The Old English epic poem, Beowulf , follows the structure of an "overcoming the monster" plot. In fact, the poem's hero, Beowulf, defeats not just one monster, but three.

As a young warrior, Beowulf slays Grendel, a swamp-dwelling demon who has been raiding the Danish king's mead hall. Later, when Grendel's mother attempts to avenge her son's death, Beowulf kills her, too. Beowulf eventually becomes king of the Geats, and many years later, he battles a dragon who threatens his people.

Beowulf manages to kill the dragon, but dies from his wounds, and is given a hero's funeral. Three times, Beowulf succeeds in protecting his people by defeating a monster. The protagonist, Jane, is a mistreated orphan who is eventually sent away to a boarding school where students are severely mistreated.

Jane survives the school and goes on to become a governess at Thornfield Manor, where Jane falls in love with Mr. The two become engaged, but on their wedding day, Jane discovers that Rochester's first wife, Bertha, has gone insane and is imprisoned in Thornfield's attic.

She leaves Rochester and ends up finding long-lost cousins. After a time, her very religious cousin, St. John, proposes to her. Jane almost accepts, but then rejects the proposal. She returns to Thornfield to discover that Bertha started a house fire and leapt off the roof of the burning building to her death, and that Rochester had been blinded by the fire in an attempt to save Bertha.

Jane and Rochester marry, and live a quiet and happy life together. Jane begins the story with nothing, seems poised to achieve true happiness before losing everything, but ultimately has a happy ending. Siddhartha , by Herman Hesse, follows the structure of the "quest" plot. The novel's protagonist, Siddartha, leaves his hometown in search of spiritual enlightenment, accompanied by his friend, Govinda.

On their journey, they join a band of holy men who seek enlightenment through self-denial, and later, they study with a group of Bhuddists. Disillusioned with religion, Siddartha leaves Govinda and the Bhuddists behind and takes up a hedonistic lifestyle with the beautiful Kamala. Still unsatisfied with his life, he considers suicide in a river, but instead decides to apprentice himself to the man who runs the ferry boat.

By studying the river, Siddhartha eventually obtains enlightenment. The plot follows the hero, Janie, as she seeks love and happiness. The novel begins and ends in Eatonville, Florida, where Janie was brought up by her grandmother. Janie has three romantic relationships, each better than the last. She marries a man named Logan Killicks on her grandmother's advice, but she finds the marriage stifling and she soon leaves him.

Janie's second, more stable marriage to the prosperous Joe Starks lasts 20 years, but Janie does not feel truly loved by him.

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