Plot Therapy

What is plot in a story? These are the main events of a story. Think of it in terms of cause and effect. Something happens (cause) the result of that (effect).

The bear ate an apple. Is this plot?

Simple answer: No. Something happens, but there is no effect, so there is not a story.

The bear ate an apple and dropped dead. Is this plot?

Simple answer: Yes. Why did the bear drop dead? Because he ate an apple. Was the apple poisonous, or could he have been allergic to the apple and not known? Questions swirl around to find out what happened to the bear. On a miniature scale, this is a story plot.

What are the components of plot?

Introduction: This is the introduction of characters and setting to the story. You show your readers the “normal” lives of the characters before something happens to change it all.

Rising Action: This is where you throw all kinds of obstacles in the lead character’s way to keep them from obtaining their goal, and it’s crucial that readers know what’s at stake for the character. You want them to root for your character, so make sure give them a reason to. This rising action provides conflict that leads into the next element.

Climax: This is what your story has been leading up to. It’s the biggest moment of your story that determines the character’s fate. Did they obtain their goal or lose out? If written well, it will be the biggest tension of your book that sets your readers on edge.

Falling Action: This is where you wind down after the big drama. Tie up all those loose ends of your subplots so that the reader feels a sense of completion.

Resolution: This is where you establish the new ‘normal’ life for the lead character. Show them happy with their choices, or show them living the effect of their choices (good or bad).

So plot is pretty clear-cut. Once you understand how the elements work together, you can apply them to all of your favorite books. Map out their plots and then apply it to your own story. Does your work fall in the lines of plot, or do you need to add some moments to move your plot along?