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Plot (narrative)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Plot is a literary term defined as the events that make up a story, particularly as they relate to one
another in a pattern, in a sequence, through cause and effect, or by coincidence. One is generally
interested in how well this pattern of events accomplishes some artistic or emotional effect. An
intricate, complicated plot is called an imbroglio, but even the simplest statements of plot may include

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multiple inferences, as in traditional ballads.[citation needed]

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Contents [hide]


1 Aristotle on plot


2 Freytag on Plot
2.1 Exposition

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2.2 Rising Action

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2.3 Climax

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2.4 Falling action


2.5 Resolution
3 Other views
4 Plot devices
5 Plot outline
6 See also
7 Notes


8 References
9 External links



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Aristotle on plot


Main article: Mythos (Aristotle)

In his Poetics, Aristotle considered plot ("mythos") the most important element of dramamore
important than character, for example. A plot must have, Aristotle says, a beginning, a middle, and an
end, and the events of the plot must causally relate to one another as being either necessary, or
Of the utmost importance to Aristotle is the plot's ability to arouse emotion in the psyche of the
audience. In tragedy, the appropriate emotions are fear and pity, emotions which he considers in his
Rhetoric. (Aristotle's work on comedy has not survived.)
Aristotle goes on to consider whether the tragic character suffers (pathos), and whether the tragic
character commits the error with knowledge of what he is doing. He illustrates this with the question
of a tragic character who is about to kill someone in his family.
The worst situation [artistically] is when the personage is with full knowledge on the point of
doing the deed, and leaves it undone. It is odious and also (through the absence of suffering)
untragic; hence it is that no one is made to act thus except in some few instances, e.g.
Haemon and Creon in Antigone. Next after this comes the actual perpetration of the deed
meditated. A better situation than that, however, is for the deed to be done in ignorance, and
the relationship discovered afterwards, since there is nothing odious in it, and the discovery
will serve to astound us. But the best of all is the last; what we have in Cresphontes, for

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Plot (narrative) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


example, where Merope, on the point of slaying her son, recognizes him in time; in Iphigenia,
where sister and brother are in a like position; and in Helle, where the son recognizes his
mother, when on the point of giving her up to her enemy. (Poetics book 14 )

Freytag on Plot


Main article: Dramatic structure

Gustav Freytag considered plot a narrative
structure that divided a story into five parts, like the
five acts of a play. These parts are: exposition (of
the situation); rising action (through conflict); climax
(or turning point); falling action; and resolution.



The exposition introduces all of the main characters

in the story. It shows how they relate to one
another, what their goals and motivations are, and
Freytag's pyramid
the kind of person they are. The audience may
have questions about any of these things, which
get settled, but if they do have them they are
specific and well-focused questions. Most importantly, in the exposition the audience gets to know
the main character, and the main character gets to know his or her goal and what is at stake if he
fails to attain his or her goal.
This phase ends, and the next begins, with the introduction of conflict.

Rising Action


Rising Action is the second phase in Freytag's five-phase structure. It starts with the death of the
characters or a conflict.
'Conflict' in Freytag's discussion must not be confused with 'conflict' in Sir Arthur Thomas QuillerCouch's critical apparatus plots into types, e.g. man vs. society. The difference is that an entire story
can be discussed according to Quiller-Couch's mode of analysis, while Freytag is talking about the
second act in a five-act play, at a time when all of the major characters have been introduced, their
motives and allegiances have been made clear (at least for the most part), and they now begin to
struggle against one another.
Generally, in this phase the protagonist understands his goal and begins to work toward it. Smaller
problems thwart his initial success, and in this phase his progress is directed primarily against these
secondary obstacles. This phase shows us how he overcomes these obstacles.
Thus, at the end of this phase and at the beginning of the next he is finally in a position to go up
against his primary goal. this part begins after the exposition.It consists of a beginnings of a tension
or complication that continues with the development of conflict between the characters.



The point of climax is the turning point of the story, where the main character makes the single big
decision that defines the outcome of their story and who they are as a person. The dramatic phase
that Freytag called the 'climax' is the third of the five phases, which occupies the middle of the story,
and that contains the point of climax. Thus "the climax" may refer to the point of climax or to the third
phase of the drama.
The beginning of this phase is marked by the protagonist finally having cleared away the preliminary
barriers and being ready to engage with the adversary. Usually, entering this phase, both the
protagonist and the antagonist have a plan to win against the other. Now for the first time we see
them going against one another in direct, or nearly direct, conflict.
This struggle results with neither character completely winning, nor losing, against the other. Usually,
each character's plan is partially successful, and partially foiled by their adversary. What is unique
about this central struggle between the two characters is that the protagonist makes a decision which
shows us his moral quality, and ultimately determines his fate. In a tragedy, the protagonist here
makes a bad decision, which is his miscalculation and the appearance of his tragic flaw.
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Plot (narrative) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This 3rd phase is normally the best part of the book, filled with the most action and adventure there
is in the whole story.

Falling action


Freytag called this phase "falling action" in the sense that the loose ends are being tied up. However,
it is often the time of greatest overall tension in the play, because it is the phase in which everything
goes most wrong.
In this phase, the villain has the upper hand. It seems that evil will triumph. The protagonist has
never been further from accomplishing the goal. For Freytag, this is true both in tragedies and
comedies, because both of these types of play classically show good winning over evil. The question
is which side the protagonist has put himself on, and this may not be immediately clear to the



In the final phase of Freytag's five phase structure, there is a final confrontation between the
protagonist and antagonist, where one or the other decisively wins. This phase is the story of that
confrontation, of what leads up to it, of why it happens the way it happens, what it means, and what
its long-term consequences are.

Other views


Besides the classical view of plot, there are other ways of looking at it.
A 1950's era writing instructor, Foster-Harris, said that plot is an emotional problem caused by two
conflicting emotions being felt by the same person (the main character), and the working-out of that
conflict. His system for creating popular fiction is compatible with, but distinct from, the classical
understanding of plot. In particular, his focus is not on analysis but generation: not how to write
criticism about existing plots, but how to create one.,[1] 1960, p. The basic elements of plot (Story)
can be understood quite simply as Character, Conflict, Complication, Crisis-Climax, and Resolution.
Change is an important element but it is inherent the actions proper.

Plot devices


Main article: Plot device

A plot device is a means of advancing the plot in a story, often used to motivate characters, create
urgency or resolve a difficulty. This can be contrasted with moving a story forward with narrative
technique, that is, by making things happen because characters take action for solid, well-motivated
reasons. As an example, when the cavalry shows up at the last moment and saves the day, that can
be argued to be a plot device; when an adversarial character who has been struggling with himself
saves the day due to a change of heart, that is dramatic technique.
Familiar types of plot devices include the Deus ex Machina, the MacGuffin, and the Red Herring.

Plot outline


A plot outline is a prose telling of a story to be turned into a screenplay. Sometimes called a one
page (one page synopsis, about 1 - 3 pages). It is generally longer and more detailed than a
standard synopsis (1 - 2 paragraphs), but shorter and less detailed than a treatment or a step
outline. There are different ways to create these outlines and they vary in length, but are basically the
same thing.
In comics, a pencil, often pluralized as pencils, refers to a stage in the development where the story
has been broken down very loosely in a style similar to storyboarding in film development.
The pencils will be very loose (i.e., the sketch rough), the main goals being to lay out the flow of
panels across a page, to ensure the story successfully builds suspense and to work out points of
view, camera angles and character positions within panels. This can also be referred to as a plot
outline or a layout.

See also
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Plot (narrative) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Arthur Quiller-Couch originally formulated seven basic plots as a series of conflicts: Man vs. Man,
Man vs. Nature, Man against God, Man vs. Society, Man in the Middle, Man & Woman, Man vs.
Himself.[citation needed]
Dramatic structure
Syd Field: Three-act structure in screenplays and films
Gustav Freytag
Mythos (Aristotle)
Narrative structure
Narrative thread
Plot hole
The Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations, which is Georges Polti's categorization of every dramatic
situation that might occur in a story or performance.



1. ^ Foster-Harris



Obstfeld, Raymond (2002). Fiction First Aid: Instant Remedies for Novels, Stories and Scripts.
Cincinnati, OH: Writer's Digest Books. ISBN158297117x.
Foster-Harris (1960). The Basic Formulas of Fiction. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press.
Polking, K (1990). Writing A to Z. Cincinnati, OH: Writer's Digest Books. ISBN0898794358.

External links


The "Basic" Plots In Literature , Information on the most common divisions of the basic plots,
from the Internet Public Library organization.
Plot on TV Tropes, a wiki catalog of the tricks of the trade for writing fiction



Antagonist/Archenemy Characterization Deuteragonist False protagonist Focal character

Foil character Protagonist Supporting character Tritagonist Viewpoint character
Climax Conflict Dnouement Dialogue Dramatic structure Exposition Falling action
Plot device Subplot Trope-Clich


Dystopia Fictional city Fictional country Fictional location Fictional universe Utopia


Leitmotif Moral Motif


Diction Figure of speech Imagery Literary technique Narrative mode Stylistic device
Suspension of disbelief Symbolism Tone


Fable-Parable Fabliaux Fairy tale Flash story Folktale-Legend Hypertext Novel Novella
Play Poem Screenplay Short story List of narrative forms


Adventure Comic Crime Docufiction Epistolary Erotic Faction Fantasy Historical

Horror Magic realism Mystery Paranoid Philosophical Political Romance Saga Satire
Science Speculative Superhero Thriller Urban


Alternating person First-person Second-person Third-person (Limited Objective Omniscient

Subjective) Stream of consciousness The narrative types of the narrator Unreliable
Past tense Present tense Future tense

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Plot (narrative) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Audience Author Fiction writing Creative nonfiction Literary theory Narrative structure
Narratology Other narrative modes Rhetoric Storytelling
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Categories: Plot (narrative)

This page was last modified on 22 February 2012 at 21:57.

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