Story Essential: Plot

Dear Writers:
I’ve been studying about plot. says plot is action and reaction of main character made up of scenes and sequels – scene action – reactions, with emotional response and regrouping of ideas to win.

There is a diagram that talks about you start out with a status quo – an ever so ordinary day. A day when your character is happy. Something happens that a your main character can’t ignore. It affects his/her life more than he even wants to think about. It’s his/her worst nightmare. He’s been saying in his mind: What will I do if such and such happens? And the day it actually happens. Then the plot tells how the character acts and reacts until he solves this problem and turns his life back to its ordinary flavor or empowers himself to be different and liking it. He’s happy once again. End of whole plot.

Here are three plot diagrams with jagged lines to show the up and down of each mini-crisis or each problem that shows the ups and downs of his actions and reactions emotionally (inner struggle) and physically (outer struggle or how problem shows up in his life) that comes to protagonist. Each of them names the different parts of plot: Choose the one that’s the most meaningful to you, print it out, and fill it in with your story’s characters and events.

1. Jagged lines in Rising Action Plot diagram Copyrighted 2000 by Mike Thompson

2. Jagged lines in Rising Action Plot diagram from

3. Jagged flame like lines for Rising Action and Falling Action Plot Diagram from Thinkport

4. Here’s a different plot diagram with more of Straight Line Slanted line Plot Diagram from Teacher

A story plot has a beginning, middle, and an end.
At the beginning of the story, everything is normal for the main character. It’s a level plane…flat land for him – represented on the diagrams as a horizontal line. Without a plot you have no story. Without a problem you have no story. Goals and complications in getting what the main character wants makes a good story. Here is more information about the five parts of a plot.

1. Exposition(Beginning)
(Only Background information reader needs to understand)

Highlight the backstory in your own manuscript. If it’s all in one place, spread it out. Only put in your story what you need at a particular time. Many times you, as the author, might need to write something so you know it in your first draft. However, when you read it over, if the reader doesn’t need to know your character failed a math test in third grade at the beginning of the story, take it out and put it in just before he’s about to take a math test to show he’s scared of it for this reason.

2. Rising Action Obstacles which the main character has to overcome that leads to the climax. Not the middle of the story. Climax is the middle of the story.
a. Main Problem (Conflict)

b. Inner and Outer Conflicts

c. Brian Godawa’s Plotting Details on Story structure:

Apparent Defeat
Final Confrontation
Self Revelation

d. Conflict: A Writer’s Best Friend by Linda Cowgill

e. “Plotting without Fears” by Alicia Rasley

f. Character
Read Write Think Lessons for 9-12
Awesome ways to fill in and print out plot and character…I wish it was just print and fill in. I am not patient enough to wait for the slowness of this to take place.

g. Character ID Badge Information about your characters you need to know

3. Climax (Middle) (ROCK BOTTOM for Main Character. FACE PROBLEM SQUARE In the FACE, (Most exciting part of the story) The middle of the story. The highest point in the story. The moment of greatest intensity. It brings events to a head and leads to the conclusion

a. Storymap from Gives good definition of Climax. Explains the climax. The climax is the moment before we know the answers to the questions the conflict has created. It is the peak of suspense.

4. Suspense – Falling Action, The protagonist wins or loses
Uncertainty and interest about the outcomes of certain actions. Real danger looming and a ray of hope
Arouses interest of the reader This shows change to the characters affected by the solution to the main problem. What happens to the main character after overcoming all obstacles Or failing to get the desire effect. Show what happens to the good guys and the bad guys. These things happen after the climax.. Things begin to fall back into place to be normal again.

Falling Action:

5. Resolution (End) – The outcome of a complex set of events Information to help reader to understand clearly what happened to take care of this challenge. …tie up all loose ends with all characters and subplots, too.

Resources to help you plot your story:
Story Map that may help with your plotting your story. This is a PDF File from Thinkport.

How to Plot a Novel

Literary Terms
Faculty of Sacred Heart Academy:

Epiphany – What is the inner self-realization key change in the character? Spiritual understanding. It may come before the climax or after the climax of the story.

Plot and Character Graphic Organizers

Thinkport Character, Plot, Sequence of Events Choose the PDF files so you can print them out.
Graphic Organizer PDF files listed separately.

PDF files Character, Plot, You have to search through each page to see what’s there.

Carol Baldwin’s book, “Teaching the Story: Fiction Writing in Grades 4-8” also has graphic organizers in it and a CD packed with good writing process explanations;

Carol Baldwin has given me permission to add links for four graphic organizers from her book to my blog. You can view and download them and/or print them out. Thanks, Carol.

Exercise Muscle Words(PDF)

Create Your Character (Word Doc)

Create Imaginary Characters (fantasy or science fiction) (Word Doc)

Build a Plot (PDF)

I would be honored if you would sign up for an email subscription to my blog from the “Sign me up” block from the top of the left hand column. The 50th person to subscribe from the left will receive a free paperback copy of Flip Flap Floodle or a 1001 Ways to Market Your Books by John Kremer.

Please leave a comment, question, or resource.

Never Give Up
Live Today
Joan Y. Edwards
Flip Flap Floodle on

Copyright 2010 Joan Y. Edwards. All rights reserved.

8 Responses

  1. I never seem to get enough takes on plot. It’s always good to see how others explain and organize this important process. Thanks, Joan, for all the perspectives and resources.


    • Dear Bonnie, Thank you very much for letting me know that you like to see how others explain and organize the very important plotting process. I hope that some of the perspectives and resources helped you see a clearer picture of plot. Do something good for yourself today.

      Have a Flip Flap Floodle Day!

      Joan Y. Edwards


  2. Wow what a wealth of information!

    Linda A.


    • Dear Linda, Thanks for writing. I’m glad you thought it was a wealth of information. I hope it wasn’t too much information.

      Have a Flip Flap Floodle Day!

      Joan Y. Edwards


  3. Thanks for including my graphic organizers on this incredibly comprehensive blog!


    • Dear Carol,
      You’re very welcome. Thanks for allowing me to put links to your “Teaching the Story: Fiction Writing in Grades 4-8; I know you spent many hours condensing what you knew into steps and creative ways to teach teachers how to teach writing to their students. Thanks for the compliment about my blog. Thanks to Maupin House for donating a copy of your book to celebrate the First Birthday of my blog on October 9th.


  4. I just added this blog to a list of references I am compiling for a wiki on writing for children. thanks.


    • Dear Carol, I hope you’re doing well. I am honored that you added my “Story Essential: Plot” to a list of references you are compiling on a wiki on writing for children. You’re welcome. Do something good for you. I’d like to see your Wiki when you’re finished or while you’re working on it. It’s going to be an awesome Wiki because you have many great references for writers. You have a broad picture of all the needed skills for writing. Do something good for you today!

      Have a Flip Flap Floodle Day!

      Joan Y. Edwards, Author/Illustrator

      Flip Flap Floodle at Amazon Website Never Give Up Blog


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