How to use a plot diagram for effective storytelling - Talentnook (2023)

Plot diagrams are essential tools for developing literary understanding and effective storytelling, making them one of the most important skills in the English language arts. Plot diagrams allow students to form a narrative progression and follow the main characters in a story, improving their analytical skills.

A plot diagram is a tool often used to break a story into specific sections. We can use them to shape our own stories. At the same time, we can also use plot diagrams to analyze other people's stories!

Learning to use a plot diagram is a skill that many students need to learn in their English classes, and for good reason!It's a great way to understand elements of a short story or novel. It can also help you understand why the author wrote certain parts of the story.

Let's begin.

What is plot?

Definition:WhatGraphicis a sequence of events in a story that forces a character to make increasingly difficult decisions, leading the story to a climactic event and resolution.

Okay, so what does that mean? The plot has a special structure that allows writers to trap their readers on a roller coaster ride. This is not just a silly metaphor. Like a roller coaster, the plot of any literary work slowly builds the reader's anticipation, excitement, and expectations before reaching its climax. After this climax, the action quickly unfolds, giving the reader euphoria and satisfaction before coming to a halt.

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More specifically, the plot is about cause and effect. Every fact in the story has to drive the plot. Whether inviting the reader to ask questions or highlighting character development, each plot element serves a specific purpose.

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History vs. plot

IN. Forester distinguishes between a story and a plot in his book.aspects of a novel🇧🇷 A story is a mere statement of fact. For example,Danny left the bride at the altar.

An action, on the other hand, would show cause and effect.Danny's old flame objected to the marriage, so Danny left his bride at the altar.(If a novel, right?)

We'll let Forester explain in his own words.

Let's define plot. We define a story as a narrative of events organized in their chronological order. A plot is also a narrative of events with an emphasis on causality. "The king died and then the queen died" is a story. "The king died, and then the queen died of grief" is a conspiracy. The chronological order is preserved, but the sense of causality overshadows it. Or also: "The queen died, no one knew why, until it was discovered that it was because of the pain of the king's death." This is a story with a mystery...

The gist of it is the difference between these two sentences:

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  • The king died and then the queen died.
    • That's a story.
  • The queen died, nobody knew why until it was discovered that it wasthrough the painon the king's death.
    • This is an act because it employs cause and effect and provides a complete picture.

The basic structure of a plot diagram

How to use a plot diagram for effective storytelling - Talentnook (1)

The most general chart template. You've probably seen this before.

To create a diagram with the necessary causal characteristics, we must first decompose the diagram's components. As we put these components together in the correct order, the reader gradually sees the full picture, increasing the amount of anticipation needed to keep reading.

A typical chart should contain the following elements

  1. exposition or presentation.

In this part of the plot, the author establishes the characters, including the protagonist. The protagonist is the main character whose actions and choices drive the plot. The author will also use this time to provide the setting.

(Video) Storytelling session by communication expert

Most likely, all the world building won't happen in the exposition itself, but the author will share enough information to show the reader what is normal for the protagonist. That way, the reader will know later if something is wrong.In our rollercoaster metaphor, the reader would buckle up. You are about to go to hell.

2. Upward action that reveal the conflict

This is where the author ups the ante and starts building to the story's climax. The protagonist is likely to experience many harrowing events during the rising story. It may seem that the antagonist is still winning. The author will use montage action to determine exactly what is at stake and ensure readers understand the main conflict.Now we are climbing the roller coaster slope, is it worth the descent?

3. The climax or turning point

Trouble is now the worst thing the protagonist has ever seen. All the complications so far have built up to this critical moment. This is where the story's tension is at its peak, with the entire main conflict stemming from the protagonist's pivotal decision. Typically, the climax not only highlights the main conflict, but also incorporates any minor conflicts to create a moment of intense anticipation.We're at the top of the roller coaster.

4. Release action

Now is the time to relax. Fall action events usually deal with the consequences of decisions made during the climax. Your teacher may use the termresolution, which is a French term meaning "to tie up loose ends". Many of the remaining issues and plot moments are resolved and connected during the descending plot.Do you feel the thrill of the descent?

5. Resolution

Here the author establishes the “new normal”. Through the events of the story, readers will have seen how the characters have changed and adapted, and will have revelations that fuel their development. The culmination of these experiences now leads to resolution, which allows the reader to reflect and see how the characters and the world around them have changed as a result of the story.Now we are slowing down to a stop.

Example of a plot diagram

We leave you with a quick and easy to understand use of the story plot diagram,The tortoise and the rabbit.

Exhibition:The rabbit brags to all the other animals that he is the fastest of them all.The tortoise disagrees with the hare and challenges him to a race.

Action boost:The other animals left for the next day's race. youThe race starts and the rabbit takes off while the turtle walks behind the rabbit very slowly.Halfway through the race, the rabbit realizes he has plenty of time to beat the turtle and decides to take a nap.

Climax:The rabbit underestimates the turtle and when he wakes up, the turtle is almost there. The rabbit runs fast and tries to catch up with the turtle.

Drop action:But the rabbit's last leap comes too late. The turtle had beaten him to the finish line.

Resolution:The tortoise tells the rabbit that slow and steady wins the race!

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Now that?

Try applying the plot diagram to one of your favorite books, movies, or short stories. You may find that many elements of theGraphicthey come as no surprise.

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How to use a plot diagram for effective storytelling - Talentnook (2)


How do you write a plot diagram for a story? ›

How do you create a plot diagram?
  1. Decide on your story idea. Remember what E.M. ...
  2. Start a worksheet, and draw the plotline. ...
  3. Label the plot beats. ...
  4. Add the story events you know. ...
  5. Fill in the gaps. ...
  6. Add other details. ...
  7. Start writing.
Feb 2, 2022

What are the 5 elements of a story plot diagram? ›

The 5 elements of plot in Literature are exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution or conclusion.

What is the purpose of plot diagram? ›

Overview. The Plot Diagram is an organizational tool focusing on a pyramid or triangular shape, which is used to map the events in a story. This mapping of plot structure allows readers and writers to visualize the key features of stories.

How do you explain the plot of a story? ›

Think of plot as the story's skeleton: it defines the What, When, and Where of the story, which allows for everything else (like characters and themes) to develop. What happens (and what is the cause-and-effect), when does it happen, and where is it happening?

What is an example of plot in a story? ›

A plot is also a narrative of events, the emphasis falling on causality. 'The king died and then the queen died,' is a story. 'The king died, and then the queen died of grief' is a plot. The time-sequence is preserved, but the sense of causality overshadows it."

What makes a good story plot? ›

A strong plot is centered on one moment—an interruption of a pattern, a turning point, or an action—that raises a dramatic question, which must be answered throughout the course of the story. This is also known as plot A. Every element of the plot—each scene, each line—exists in service of answering that question.

What is the effectiveness of plot? ›

Plot Provides Writers With an Outline for How Things Need to Happen in Order to Make the Story Effective. Every story needs plot to be effective. Without a plot, a story can quickly become disjointed and difficult to follow.

What are the 6 parts of a plot diagram? ›

The six parts are: exposition, conflict, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution.

What are the 7 basic plot structures? ›

The 7 story archetypes are:
  • Overcoming the Monster.
  • Rags to Riches.
  • The Quest.
  • Voyage and Return.
  • Comedy.
  • Tragedy.
  • Rebirth.
Oct 31, 2011

What are the 5 major plot points in a story? ›

The 5 Elements of Plot
  • Exposition. This is your book's introduction, where you introduce your characters, establish the setting, and begin to introduce the primary conflict of your story. ...
  • Rising Action. ...
  • Climax. ...
  • Falling Action. ...
  • Resolution/Denouement.

What are 3 of the main components of a story plot? ›

Take one of the components of plot (exposition, inciting incident, rising action, climax, denouement), and show that point in your story.

What are the two most important parts of the plot diagram? ›

The climax is the turning point in the story. It is usually the most exciting part in the story and the part that makes the reader want to keep reading. The falling action is the events that happen after the climax that lead to a resolution or ending to the story.

Why is plot very important in a story? ›

The plot ensures that every important element of the story is in place to make sense to the reader and keep the story moving. It also contains the conflict or problem that the main characters must tackle in order to reach their happy ending. Every compelling story, even a short story, will have a plot.

How does plot structure affect a story? ›

The plot structure is meant to give form and cohesion to a story. First and foremost, the plot structure is meant to present the story to the reader. The plot is also meant to move the story forward and give order to the sequence of events within the story. Overall, the plot structure acts as the backbone of the story.

What is plot and plot structure in a story? ›

Definition of Plot and Structure

Plot is the series of events that make up your story, including the order in which they occur and how they relate to each other. Structure (also known as narrative structure), is the overall design or layout of your story.

What are the four types of plot in the story? ›

The plot used in fictions can be differentiated into four types: linear, episodic, parallel, and flashback. The most common plot employed in short stories is the linear plot. Some short stories, though quite rarely, also use flashback plot.

What are the three 3 kinds of plot? ›

A plot is simply the sequence of events that make up a narrative or story; it can be broken down into three different types: linear, cyclical, and episodic.

How do you explain a plot to a student? ›

Plot is the series of events that make up a story. Plots have five main parts that always take place in the same order: beginning (where exposition, or setting and characters are introduced), rising action, climax (the most exciting part), falling action, and resolution.

How do you explain a plot to a story for kids? ›

Plot – The plot refers to the events that happen in a story. The plot consists of an introduction, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. It is the what of the story. In most stories, there is a problem in the beginning and it ends with a resolution.


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