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Plot Structures

Plot Diagram
Climax

Conict

Resolution

Exposition

Exposition

Exposition
First part of the plot

Exposition
First part of the plot Introduces the characters

Exposition
First part of the plot Introduces the characters Provides the setting

Exposition
First part of the plot Introduces the characters Provides the setting Gives the necessary background for the action

Flashback
Text goes back in time chronologically to give us some exposition, then returns to the more advanced point.

ACTION

Flashback

ACTION

Flashback

ACTION

Flashback

ACTION

Flashback

ACTION
Return to previous point in the action

Foreshadowing
In a sense, all exposition is foreshadowing

Foreshadowing

Plot

Foreshadowing

Plot
Clue

Foreshadowing
Future Event

Plot
Clue

Foreshadowing
Future Event

Plot
Clue

Foreshadowing
Future Event

Plot
Clue

Foreshadowing
Future Event

Plot
Creates anticipation

Clue

Exposition

Exposition
Place in which the action occurs

Exposition
Place in which the action occurs Doesn't have to be a real place

Exposition
Place in which the action occurs Doesn't have to be a real place If it is a magical, fantastic place, we need to know the ground rules that govern this place

Place

Place
Real

Place
Real Imaginary

Place
Real Imaginary Urban

Place
Real Imaginary Urban Rural

Place
Real Imaginary Urban Rural Closed

Place
Real Imaginary Urban Rural Closed Open

Closed Space

Closed Space
Popular in mystery stories

Closed Space
Popular in mystery stories All of the characters (suspects) are stuck together in a place that is somehow isolated from the rest of the world

Expostion

Expostion
Time

Expostion
Time Present

Expostion
Time Present Past

Expostion
Time Present Past Future

Expostion
Time Present Past Future Fable time ("Once upon a time")

Expostion
Time Present Past Future Fable time ("Once upon a time") Outside of human history

Introduce main characters


Especially the protagonist

Establish sympathy or identication with the protagonist

Establish sympathy or identication with the protagonist


The reader has to care about this person and what happens to him/her, or s/he won't continue reading.

Exposition

Exposition
Beginning of the action

Exposition
Beginning of the action What is the protagonist's relationship to his/her environment?

Exposition
Beginning of the action What is the protagonist's relationship to his/her environment? What is the protagonist's normal situation?

Exposition
Beginning of the action What is the protagonist's relationship to his/her environment? What is the protagonist's normal situation? At what point in the protagonist's life does the action begin?

In media res

In media res

Begin in the middle of the action

Conict
Complication

Conict

Conict
Important moment in the action

Conict
Important moment in the action Tension starts to build

Conict
Important moment in the action Tension starts to build The tension will continue to build until we reach the climax

Conict

Conict
Internal (the protagonist struggles with some aspect of him/herself)

Conict
Internal (the protagonist struggles with some aspect of him/herself) External (the protagonist struggles with outside forces)

EXTERNAL CONFLICT

EXTERNAL CONFLICT

Enemy of the group

EXTERNAL CONFLICT

Personal enemy

Enemy of the group

EXTERNAL CONFLICT

Personal enemy

Enemy of the group

Society as a whole

Internal Conict
Physical or Mental Limitation

Internal Conict
Physical or Mental Limitation My Le! Foot

Internal Conict
Physical or Mental Limitation A Beautiful Mind My Le! Foot

Internal Conict
Physical or Mental Limitation A Beautiful Mind My Le! Foot

Shine

Internal Conict
Physical or Mental Limitation A Beautiful Mind Helen Keller Shine My Le! Foot

Internal Conict
Character Flaw

Internal Conict
Character Flaw

Pathologically shy

Internal Conict
Character Flaw

Pathologically shy

Selsh, greedy

Internal Conict
Character Flaw

Pathologically shy

Selsh, greedy

Unable to love, uncaring

Internal Conict
Workaholic Character Flaw

Pathologically shy

Selsh, greedy

Unable to love, uncaring

Internal Conict
Workaholic Character Flaw

Pathologically shy

Selsh, greedy

Unable to love, uncaring

Alcoholic or drug addict

Internal Conict
Workaholic Character Flaw Racist or sexist

Pathologically shy

Selsh, greedy

Unable to love, uncaring

Alcoholic or drug addict

Internal Conict
Workaholic Character Flaw Racist or sexist

Irresponsible or supercial

Pathologically shy

Selsh, greedy

Unable to love, uncaring

Alcoholic or drug addict

Internal Conict
Can be a moral conict (a struggle with one's own conscience)

Cinderella

Stepmother

Cinderella

Stepmother

Stepsisters

Cinderella

Stepmother

Stepsisters

Poverty

Cinderella

The Grinch
Internal Conict

My heart is too small.

The Grinch
Internal Conict

I have to learn to care about others and enjoy life.

My heart is too small.

The Grinch
Internal Conict

Climax
The moment of truth

Climax

Climax
The decisive moment in the conict

Climax
The decisive moment in the conict The protagonist faces his/her biggest challenge

Climax
The decisive moment in the conict The protagonist faces his/her biggest challenge In sports lms, this is the moment of the big match

Resolution
Denouement

Resolution

Resolution
How is the crisis resolved?

Resolution
How is the crisis resolved? Tragedy > Ends on a negative note

Resolution
How is the crisis resolved? Tragedy > Ends on a negative note Protagonist is defeated

Resolution
How is the crisis resolved? Tragedy > Ends on a negative note Protagonist is defeated There is a death

Resolution
How is the crisis resolved? Tragedy > Ends on a negative note Protagonist is defeated There is a death Major loss

Resolution
How is the crisis resolved? Tragedy > Ends on a negative note Protagonist is defeated There is a death Major loss Comedy > The ending is positive

LINEAR PLOT STRUCTURE

CIRCULAR PLOT STRUCTURE

CIRCULAR PLOT STRUCTURE

Beginning

CIRCULAR PLOT STRUCTURE

Beginning

CIRCULAR PLOT STRUCTURE

Beginning

CIRCULAR PLOT STRUCTURE

Beginning

CIRCULAR PLOT STRUCTURE

Beginning

CIRCULAR PLOT STRUCTURE

Beginning End

Open Ending

Open Ending
Does not give us the resolution

Open Ending
Does not give us the resolution The reader has to decide the ending

Open Ending
Does not give us the resolution The reader has to decide the ending The lady or the tiger?