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A literary term, a plot is all the events in a story particularly rendered toward the achievement of
some particular artistic or emotional effect or general theme. An intricate, complicated plot is
known as an imbroglio, but even the simplest statements of plot can have multiple inferences, such
as with songs the ballad tradition.
Plot is often designed with a narrative structure, storyline or story arc, that includes exposition,
conflict, rising action and climax, followed by a falling action and resolution.
Main article: Exposition (literary technique)
Exposition is the beginning of the plot usually concerned with introducing characters and setting.
These elements may be largely presented at the beginning of the story, or occur as a sort of
incidental description throughout. Exposition may be handled in a variety of ways—perhaps a
character or a set of characters explain the elements of the plot through dialogue or thought, media
such as newspaper clippings, and diaries. In the case of film, an analogous usage of television,
discovered video tape, or documentary may be used.
 Rising Action
Main article: Conflict (narrative)
Rising Action is the central part of a story during which various problems arise, leading up to the
Conflict is the "problem" in a story which triggers the action. There are five basic types of conflict:
Person vs. Person: One character in a story has a problem with one or more of the other characters;
Person vs. Society: A character has a conflict or problem with society-the school, the law, tradition;
Person vs. Him or Herself: A character struggles inside and has trouble deciding what to do; Person
vs. Nature: A character has a problem with some element of nature, a snowstorm, avalanche, bitter
cold; Person vs. Fate A character has to battle what seems to be an uncontrolled problem.
Main article: Climax (narrative)
The climax is the high point of the story, where a culmination of events create the peak of the
conflict. The climax usually features the most conflict and struggle, and usually reveals any secrets
or missing points in the story. Alternatively, an anti-climax may occur, in which an expectedly
difficult event is revealed to be incredibly easy or of paltry importance. Critics may also label the
falling action as an anti-climax, or anti-climactic. The climax isn't always the first important scene
in a story. In many stories, it is the last sentence, with no successive falling action or resolution.
 Falling action
Main article: Falling action
The falling action is the part of a story following the climax. This part of the story shows the result
of the climax, and its effects on the characters, setting and proceeding events. Critics may label a
story with falling action as the anti-climax or anti-climactic if they feel that the falling action takes
away from the power of the climax.
Main article: Dénouement
Etymologically, the French word dénouement is derived from the Old French word denoer, "to
untie", and from nodus, Latin for "knot". In fiction, a dénouement consists of a series of events
that follow the climax, and thus serves as the conclusion of the story. Conflicts are resolved,
creating normality for the characters and a sense of catharsis, or release of tension and anxiety, for
the reader. Simply put, dénouement is the unraveling or untying of the complexities of a plot. Be
aware that not all stories have a resolution.
 Plot devices
Main article: Plot device
A plot device is a literary technique used by authors to forward the plot of a story.
 Plot outlines
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 do these outlines and they vary in length.
In comics, an outline, often pluralized as outlines, 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 aim being to lay out the flow of
panels across a page, 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
 See also
• Dramatic structure
• Narrative structure
• 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.
• Obstfeld, Raymond (2002). Fiction First Aid: Instant Remedies for Novels, Stories and
Scripts. Cincinnati, OH: Writer's Digest Books. ISBN 158297117x.
• Polking, K (1990). Writing A to Z. Cincinnati, OH: Writer's Digest Books.
WHAT IS PLOT?
According to the dictionary,
plot is the plan of action for a
play, novel, poem, short story,
etc. When we read a story, we
continue reading because we
are waiting for the resolution
of a conflict, or the solution to
a mystery, a moral to the
story, or just a plain "happy
ending"! This is what keeps us
reading the story!
One way you can build a good story is by having a believable
character with a problem or situation that is solved by the
character's own bravery or cleverness. To make the story really
good, sometimes the character tries several ways to solve his
problem, and fails.
Let's take a look at some favorite stories and their plots.
Cinderella is a favorite story that has many versions all over the
Is there a character that we can care about? Yes! We have
Cinderella who is orphaned and lives with her cruel step-mother and
Does she have a problem? She sure does! She needs to get out of
her current living situation, but how can she?
Different versions tell different stories about how CInderella escapes
from her wicked step-mother. Some versions even have the step-
mother and step-sisters end up "getting theirs" in the end. A very
well loved story world wide, yet very simple.
How about Jack in the Beanstalk?
Poor father-less Jack, lives with his mother in poverty. His
adventures with magic beans and his own cleverness result in him
becoming rich (at the expense of the giant).
What about those Three Little Pigs?
In this story, we have three main characters (pigs), but the one who
we really become attached to is the "third little pig". He is the most
clever and builds his house out of bricks. He is able to save his
brothers from being the wolf's dinner through his own hard work
and cleverness. In the end the wolf leaves and the three little pigs
live happily ever after! (I just love that story!)
As you get to be a better story writer, you can try making stories
with trick endings that surprise the reader;or you can make the
"problem" actually a decision that your character has to make.
Things to remember when writing a good story:
• Care about your characters. No one will care about your plot
unless they care about your characters. Don't have too many
characters, though. You'll confuse your reader!
• Does your story make sense?
• Don't make the ending too predictable. Your readers will be
The Importance of 'Plot' in Stories
The plot is the main story of a
piece of writing. It has a
beginning, a middle, and an
In the beginning, we
learn about the characters, the
setting, and typically, about a
problem or problems that our
hero needs to resolve.
In the middle is where
most of the action takes place.
Here is where our hero
discovers that his his problem
is not so easily solved!
The ending is where our
hero finally resolves the
problem, or problems, and
lives happily ever after. (Well,
at least is fairy tales.)
Let's read a story and play around with the plot
In Meet Addy, •With a partner, read Meet Addy.
•After reading the story, go back and pick a
Addy try a
from slavery •Brainstorm on your own or with a partner
after Poppa and some things that could have happened
instead, as a result of that choice being
Sam are sold made.
plantation •Rewrite the story from the point of that
choice. Since the beginning of the story
owner. They remains the same, you will be re-writing
need only the middle and the end of the story.
faith to travel •Edit, revise, and write your final draft. Be
north to prepared to share your story.
with them on
TSA Writing Tips - Twenty Basic Plots
IDEAS, PLOTS & USING THE PREMISE SHEETS
After you come up with your own system for generating ideas, the next
step is to put them in some recognizable story form (the basic plot
idea), build your central conflict (the story premise sheet), then
build your character and underlying themes (the thematic premise
#1 QUEST - the plot involves the Protagonist's search for a person,
place or thing, tangible or intangible (but must be quantifiable, so
think of this as a noun; i.e., immortality).
#2 ADVENTURE - this plot involves the Protagonist going in search of
their fortune, and since fortune is never found at home, the
Protagonist goes to search for it somewhere over the rainbow.
#3 PURSUIT - this plot literally involves hide-and-seek, one person
#4 RESCUE - this plot involves the Protagonist searching for someone
or something, usually consisting of three main characters - the
Protagonist, the Victim & the Antagonist.
#5 ESCAPE - plot involves a Protagonist confined against their will
who wants to escape (does not include some one trying to escape their
#6 REVENGE - retaliation by Protagonist or Antagonist against the
other for real or imagined injury.
#7 THE RIDDLE - plot involves the Protagonist's search for clues to
find the hidden meaning of something in question that is deliberately
enigmatic or ambiguous.
#8 RIVALRY - plot involves Protagonist competing for same object or
goal as another person (their rival).
#9 UNDERDOG - plot involves a Protagonist competing for an object or
goal that is at a great disadvantage and is faced with overwhelming
#10 TEMPTATION - plot involves a Protagonist that for one reason or
another is induced or persuaded to do something that is unwise, wrong
#11 METAMORPHOSIS - this plot involves the physical characteristics of
the Protagonist actually changing from one form to another (reflecting
their inner psychological identity).
#12 TRANSFORMATION - plot involves the process of change in the
Protagonist as they journey through a stage of life that moves them
from one significant character state to another.
#13 MATURATION - plot involves the Protagonist facing a problem that
is part of growing up, and from dealing with it, emerging into a state
of adulthood (going from innocence to experience).
#14 LOVE - plot involves the Protagonist overcoming the obstacles to
love that keeps them from consummating (engaging in) true love.
#15 FORBIDDEN LOVE - plot involves Protagonist(s) overcoming obstacles
created by social mores and taboos to consummate their relationship
(and sometimes finding it at too high a price to live with).
#16 SACRIFICE - plot involves the Protagonist taking action(s) that is
motivated by a higher purpose (concept) such as love, honor, charity
or for the sake of humanity.
#17 DISCOVERY - plot that is the most character-centered of all,
involves the Protagonist having to overcome an upheavel(s) in their
life, and thereby discovering something important (and buried) within
them a better understanding of life (i.e., better appreciation of
their life, a clearer purpose in their life, etc.)
#18 WRETCHED EXCESS - plot involves a Protagonist who, either by
choice or by accident, pushes the limits of acceptable behavior to the
extreme and is forced to deal with the consequences (generally deals
with the psychological decline of the character).
#19 ASCENSION - rags-to-riches plot deals with the rise (success) of
Protagonist due to a dominating character trait that helps them to
#20 DECISION - riches-to-rags plot deals with the fall (destruction)
of Protagonist due to dominating character trait that eventually
destroys their success.
(Note: Sometimes #19 & #20 are combined into rags-to-riches-to-rags
(or vice versa) of a Protagonist who does (or doesn't) learn to deal
with their dominating character trait.)
For an in-depth look at these plots, read the excellent "20 Master
Plots and How To Build Them" by Ronald B. Tobias available through the
TSA Writers Store.
Exposition (literary technique)
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Exposition is one of four rhetorical modes of discourse, along with argumentation, description, and
narration.It is also used for speeches. The purpose of exposition is to provide some background and
inform the readers about the plot, character, setting, and theme of the essay/story or motion picture.
• 4 See
• 6 Notes
 Nonfiction exposition
 Types of expository writing
• Sequence writing lists or steps in chronological order or how they happen.
• Descriptive essays use the senses of sight, smell, touch, hearing, and taste to provide the
reader with a mental image or feeling about the subject.
• Classification writing uses an organizational strategy to arrange groups of objects or ideas
according to a common theme.
• Comparison writing shows the similarities and differences between two or more subjects.
• Cause-and-effect writing, also known as analysis, identifies the reasons for an event or
Conflict: middle resolution:end Lecture dosent always occure at end the setting is exposition
complications:middle shape and order exposition: beginning
 Exposition in fiction
 Exposition as a fiction-writing mode
Within the context of fiction, exposition is the fiction-writing mode for conveying information.
According to Robert Kernen, "Exposition can be one of the most effective ways of creating and
increasing the drama in your story. It can also be the quickest way to kill a plot's momentum and
get your story bogged down in detail. Too much exposition, or too much at one time, can seriously
derail a story and be frustrating to the reader or viewer eager for a story to either get moving or
move on." (Kernen 1999, p. 57)
Exposition in fiction may be delivered through various means. As noted by Ansen Dibell, the
simplest way is to just place the information between scenes as the all-seeing, all-knowing (but
impersonal and invisible) narrator.(Dibell 1988, p. 51) Jessica Page Morrell has observed that
various devices, such as trial transcriptions, newspaper clippings, letters, and diaries may be used to
convey information.(Morrell 2006, p. 94) Another means of delivering information is through a
character, either as dialogue or through the character's thoughts.(Dibell 1988, p. 51-52)
 Information dump
When the presentation of information in fiction becomes wordy, it is sometimes referred to as an
"information dump," "exposition dump," or "plot dump." Information dumps expressed by
characters in dialogue or monologue are sometimes referred to as "idiot lectures."
Information dumps are sometimes placed at the beginning of stories as a means of establishing the
premise of the plot. In serial television drama, exposition in individual episodes often appears as a
brief montage of scenes from earlier episodes, prefaced with the phrase "Previously on [name of
series]." Villain speech is a specific form of exposition in which the villain describes his sinister
plans to a helpless hero, often prefacing his exposition with the comment that it can't hurt to
divulge the plan, since the hero will be dead soon anyway (or the plan will be impossible to stop in
the short time available). The villain's motivation sometimes includes his desire to have his
cleverness admired by the character most capable of appreciating it. Examples include Comic book
supervillains and villains in James Bond movies.
In television, information dumps are common in sit-coms with the introduction of non-recurring
characters which drive the comedic plot of a particular episode. An example would be the use of the
narrator in Arrested Development to sum up the revelations and inner thoughts of characters in
order to keep the viewer tuned to the plot.
In television sketch comedy, which borrows from the tradition of vaudeville comedy, exposition in
the most exaggerated sense is used for outrageous comedic effect.
Stories which are concerned with the unearthing of a secret past sometimes include lengthy
exposition sequences. These may include large quantities of exposition, complete with theorizing
about the implications of the information. Examples include:
• Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code
• Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash
• Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum
 Parodies of information dump
The Austin Powers film series has a character named Basil Exposition whose job was to repeatedly
plot dump as a parody of the process in movies with serious plots.
The series Mystery Science Theater 3000 always mocked movies that made blatant use of this
practice. For example, in Parts: The Clonus Horror, there is a scene where a character views a
videotape that explains the organization's origins and purpose in painstaking detail, basically
providing all of the necessary exposition in one fell swoop. Tom Servo quips, "Good thing he
wandered into the Department of Backstory!" At the beginning of another MST3k movie, Riding
with Death, an extra consults a computer file containing information about the movie's protagonist
for completely unexplained reasons (other than providing exposition). Once again, Servo notes this
by referring to the computer as the "Backstory Database".
Plot dumps are parodied in the movie Spaceballs when Colonel Sandurz explains a plan to Dark
Helmet, though Dark Helmet should have already known the plan. Dark Helmet then faces the
camera and, breaking the fourth wall, asks the audience "Everybody got that?" to parody the true
purpose of the plot dump.
The "villain speech" is criticized in the film Last Action Hero, where the police traitor, John
Practice, reveals his evil plan to Jack Slater and Danny, to which the latter retorts that it's a classic
mistake made by villains. Also, in The Incredibles, several characters negatively denote
"monologing" as a villain's speech that goes on for too long and distracts him from realizing the
superhero is escaping.
Several villains in the Nickelodeon series Danny Phantom have been prone to plot dumping,
especially the recurring technology ghost, Nicolai Technus. This is made into a running gag in the
episode "Identity Crisis." In that episode, Technus claims to have upgraded himself, one of the
advantages of the upgrade being that he would no longer shout his nefarious plot into the sky. He
was able to maintain this for most of the episode (at one point even criticizing Danny for shouting
something into the air himself), but eventually dictates his plot to himself near victory, immediately
afterwards saying, "Nobody heard that, right?"
In the stage musical Urinetown, the first song is in fact titled "Too Much Exposition" during which
the Narrator and Little Sally explain about the drought that caused the water shortage, and in turn,
the end of private bathrooms. While discussing the issue Officer Lockstock finally stops Little Sally
before she reveals too much because "nothing can kill a show like too much exposition." Really!
("What about bad subject matter?" she argues. "Or a bad title? That can kill a show pretty good.")
In an episode of "Spongebob Squarepants," Mr. Krabs returns from a vacation trip and the word
"exposition" is displayed over his head. His location was a mystery during the entire episode, this
revelation added context to the plotline.
In the Doctor Who episode 'Utopia'. The newly regenerated rival of The Doctor, The Master says
"Why dont we stop and have a nice little chat whilst you find out a way to stop me, I dont think
Incluing is a technique of world building, in which the reader is gradually exposed to background
information about the world in which a story is set. The idea is to clue the readers into the world the
author is building, without them being aware of it.
This in opposition to infodumping, where a concentrated amount of background material is given
all at once in the story, often in the form of a conversation between two characters, both of whom
should already know the material under discussion. (The so-called As you know, Bob conversation.)
Both incluing and infodumping are forms of exposition and are frequently used in science fiction
and fantasy, genres where the author has the task to make the reader believe in a world that does
not exist. Writers in other genres have less use for these techniques, as they can often depend on the
reader's familiarity with the "real world".
Incluing can be done in a number of ways: through conversation between characters, through
background details or by establishing scenes where a character is followed through daily life. One
famous example of incluing is the door dilated, a phrase created by Robert A. Heinlein and used in
several of his stories and novels. In real life, few doors (if any) open like pupils; the offhand
mention establishes the familiarity of this strange thing, and does not call attention to itself.
The word incluing is attributed to fantasy and science fiction author Jo Walton. She defined it as
"the process of scattering information seamlessly through the text, as opposed to stopping the story
to impart the information." 
 See also
• Rhetorical modes
• Expository writing
• Fiction-writing modes
 Further reading
• Dibell, Ansen (1988). Plot. Cincinnati, OH: Writer’s Digest Books. ISBN 0898793033.
• Kernen, Robert (1999). Building Better Plots. Cincinnati, OH: Writer’s Digest Books.
• Morrell, Jessica Page (2006). Between the Lines: Master the Subtle Elements of Fiction
Writing. Cincinnati, OH: Writer's Digest Books. ISBN 978-1-58297-393-7.
1 ^ http://www.lshelby.com/rasfcFAQ.html retrieved 17 May 2007
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Conflict is a necessary element of fictional literature. It is defined as the problem in any piece of
literature and is often classified according to the nature of the protagonist or antagonist, as follows:
• 2 See
 Common Examples of Conflict
 Character vs. Self
Character vs. Self (Person vs. Character) is when the central conflict of a story is internal to the
main character has a problem with him/herself.
 Character vs. Character
Character vs. Character is when, in a novel, there is a conflict of two forms of like beings. An
example is the hero's conflicts with the central villain of a work, which may play a large role in the
plot and contribute to the development of both characters. There are usually several
arguments/disagreements before the climax is reached. The conflict is external. person vs. Person
can usually be expressed by,for example, when a child is being ridiculed by a bully. An example is
the conflict between Judah and Messala in Ben-Hur it can be any form of character.
 Character vs. Society
Character vs. Society is a theme in fiction in which a main character's, or group of main
characters', main source of conflict is social traditions or concepts. In this sense, the two parties are:
a) the protagonist(s) or b) the society of which the protagonist(s) are included. Society itself is often
looked at as single character, just as an opposing party would be looked at in a Character vs.
Character conflict. Character vs. Society conflict gives the playwright an opportunity to comment
on positive/negative aspects of a whole?
 Character vs. Nature
Character vs. Nature is the theme in literature that places a character against forces of nature.
Many disaster films focus on this theme, which is predominant within many survival stories. It is
also strong in stories about struggling for survival in remote locales, such as the novel Hatchet or
Jack London's short story "To Build a Fire". Also A Separate Peace is a good example with Leper
not wanting to jump out of the tree.
 Character vs. Supernatural
Character vs. a spirit. This could be ghosts, monsters, demons,etc. One common example is the
 Character vs. Machine/Technology
Character vs. Machine/Technology places a character against robot forces with "artificial
intelligence". I, Robot and the Terminator series are good examples of this conflict.
 Character vs. Destiny
Character vs. Destiny is a theme where one attempts to break free of a predetermined path chosen
before him prior to his knowledge. If can also be referred to as an issue between fate and freewill. A
common example is Shakespeare's Macbeth.
(Character vs. Destiny can also be commonly known as Character vs. Fate.)
there are many types of conflict in liturature.==History== As
with other literary terms, these have come
about gradually as descriptions of common narrative structures. Conflict was first described in
ancient Greek literature as the agon, or central contest in tragedy. According to Aristotle, in order to
hold the interest, the hero must have a single conflict. The agon, or act of conflict, involves the
protagonist (the "first fighter") and the antagonist (a more recent term), corresponding to the hero
and villain. The outcome of the contest cannot be known in advance, and, according to later critics
such as Plutarch, the hero's struggle should be ennobling.
Even in contemporary, non-dramatic literature, critics have observed that the agon is the central
unit of the plot. The easier it is for the protagonist to triumph, the less value there is in the drama.
In internal and external conflict alike, the antagonist must act upon the protagonist and must seem
at first to overmatch him or her. For example, in William Faulkner's The Bear, nature might be the
antagonist. Even though it is an abstraction, natural creatures and the scenery oppose and resist the
protagonist. In the same story, the young boy's doubts about himself provide an internal conflict,
and they seem to overwhelm him.
Similarly, when godlike characters enter (e.g. Superman), correspondingly great villains have to be
created, or natural weaknesses have to be invented, to allow the narrative to have drama.
Alternatively, scenarios could be devised in which the character's godlike powers are constrained by
some sort of code, or their respective antagonist.
 See also
• Deus ex machina
• Problem of evil
• Literary element
 External links