The Parts of a PlotHere is how the four parts of a plot work together. Climax Complications DenouementExposition
What Is Plot?Plot is the series of related events in a story or play.•The plot is sometimes called the story line.•A plot has four main parts: • exposition • complications • climax • denouement
ExpositionThe exposition introduces a story’s main characters,setting, and conflict. Caroline nervously walked toward the card table to check in. Glancingback at her parents, she gave them a quick, fake smile. It was the firstday of a week-long college retreat for high school seniors, something thathad sounded like a great opportunity when she read the brochure. Afterall, this might be her best chance to be admitted to such a prestigiousuniversity. Just before she reached the table, a tall, boisterous girl cut in front ofher. “Hancock, Vanessa,” the girl announced. She glanced briefly back atCaroline. “You don’t mind, do you? I’ve got a ton of stuff to load in,” shesaid, pointing to an enormous pile of luggage. Caroline looked for herparents, but they were heading back to the car. It was going to be a longweek.
ComplicationsComplications are the events making up the rising actionof a story and leading to its climax. Rising action builds asthe characters try to deal with the conflict. Caroline approached her dorm room. Music was blasting from inside.On the door the sign read, “Haltom, Caroline; Hancock, Vanessa.”“Please, no,” she thought. She opened the door. “Hey, Roomie!” yelled Vanessa over the music. “Come on in!” Vanessa had already made the room a sty, with food, clothes, andCDs everywhere. Caroline cleared off a bed and put down her backpack.She wanted to be home. Instead, she would have to find a way to cramfor Friday’s Know-It-All competition, a chance to impress the collegeofficials.
ClimaxThe climax is the point in the plot with the greatestintensity, suspense, or interest. The climax may revealhow the conflict will turn out. This was the last straw. Caroline had lost the competition, she wasembarrassed and exhausted, and now she couldn’t even get the dooropen. “Vanessa!” she screamed, pounding on the door in frustration. She heard Vanessa moving who knows what away from the door.Then, Vanessa yanked open the door and smiled. “What’s up, Carrie?” “What is wrong with you?!” Caroline shrieked. “You haven’taccomplished a single thing here except for making me miserable! Whydid you even come to this retreat?”
DenouementThe denouement is the conclusion of a story. In it, theconflict is resolved (happily or unhappily) and anyremaining questions are answered.•Some modern fiction ends without a denouement. Vanessa stood wide-eyed and silent for a minute. Then, quietly, shesaid, “I came here because my dad made me. He’s the head ofAdmissions. I’ve already been admitted, so this retreat is kind of pointlessfor me. I just wanted to have fun. Sorry if I made it hard for you to study.” Caroline sat down. At least she would get to choose where to go tocollege. “I had no idea. Let’s clean up a little and go get a burger, OK?” “That sounds perfect,” replied Vanessa. “While we eat, I’ll give you tipson writing an awesome application essay.” They smiled at each other. This could be a good opportunity after all.
Plot OrganizationA story’s plot is usually organized in chronological order—starting at the beginning of the story and telling abouteach event in the order that it happened. Beginning End Caroline arrives at Caroline and Vanessa the college become friends. retreat.
Plot OrganizationWriters sometimes interrupt the chronological order ofevents with flashbacks. •A flashback shows a scene from the past that is relevant to what is currently happening in the story. The whole situation reminded Caroline of when she was seven andhad to share a hotel room with her obnoxious younger cousin. No matterwhat Caroline said or did, her cousin ran wild, making noise at all hours,jumping on her when she was trying to sleep, and leaving food inCaroline’s bed. Complaining to the adults didn’t help because everyonethought that four-year-old Ana was adorable. Well, maybe she couldn’t doanything about it then, but Caroline was determined to do somethingabout it now.
Plot OrganizationWriters may use foreshadowing to hint at events that willoccur later in the plot.•Foreshadowing gives readers clues in order to arouse their curiosity and increase suspense. Caroline waited for her turn in the competition. The questions theywere asking Rob Gutierrez seemed so easy. Maybe it would be all rightthat she hadn’t been able to study. She glanced at the university officialsmaking notes. One of them looked up at her, and suddenly Caroline felt aweight in her stomach. Her brain felt strangely empty. “Haltom, Caroline. . . Caroline Haltom, please come forward,” the announcer repeated.
What Have You Learned?Match the terms in the box with the correct definitions.Foreshadowing Complications DenouementComplications_____________— The events making up the rising action of a story and leading to its climax._____________— Hints about later events in a story given toForeshadowing increase suspense or arouse curiosity.Denouement_____________— The conclusion of a plot, which resolves the story’s conflict.