dandy graph above is the plot structure graph. It applies to all works
of fiction including movies. Using these terms in discussions
makes one sound most intelligent. The line itself represents the excitement, suspense, or tension in the story.
The graph shows what might result if the story were somehow hooked up
to a “plotometer.” However, most stories have minor up’s and down’s
leading to the climax rather than the ideal slow rise shown above.
is the background information necessary to understanding a story.
It doesn't contain any conflicts, and, consequently, doesn't advance
the plot. In other words, nothing exciting happens in exposition;
it's mostly just description of characters or setting. Remember
those little tales Ma and Pa used to tell you as a youngun'? Most
started with something like "Once upon a time there was a pretty girl
with long, beautiful hair. She lived in a castle high on a
hill." That was exposition.
are as necessary to a story's excitement as they are in our own
lives. While we might wish to be conflict free, the end result
would be colossal boredom. Conflicts are like rabbits--they exist
in many varieties, and all are willing to breed. Consequently, a
story seldom has just one conflict since one usually causes another.
There are physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual conflicts, but one usually causes another. Physical conflicts are also called external conflicts while emotional, mental, and spiritual conflicts are internal conflicts. Conflicts are categorized
in other ways as well. Man versus man, man vs. self, man vs.
society, man vs. fate, man vs. God, man vs. machine, man vs. the
supernatural, and man vs. the politically correct group for writing man
vs. each time are popular categories. However, these are only
categories. The actual conflicts will be specific ones that
mention characters by name.
refers to the events that happen because of the character's struggle
with the conflicts. On the graph above, it's easy to see why it's
called rising action. The inclined line is symbolic of the rising
suspense, excitement, etc. in the story.
is the peak of excitement, the top of our plot graph mountain. It
is here that the main character either beats the conflict or is beaten
by it. The suspense doesn’t get any higher than at this point.
The falling action
is the events that happen after the climax often as a result of
them. We get to see results of beating the conflict or being
beaten by it.
is the new world the character lives in after the story's conflicts are
resolved. Note that the character began on one level at the
story's beginning and on a different level after facing the
conflict. On the sample graph, the new level is a higher one; the
character's life has improved in some way. However, he could be
on a lower level just as easily.
These should be familiar
elements in the books you've read and the movies you've seen.
Additionally, they are real parts of life. That's why we read
literature; if we read quality stories and think about their content
and meaning, we learn about ourselves. We all have conflicts in
our lives, and each conflict has its climax. By facing them, we
learn and have some new information to help us deal with life. By
reading we can learn about life the easy way and avoid the hard way.