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Introduction to Literature

Plot & Plot devices


The plot of a short story is the element most readers notice first and remember longest. Definition: Plot is the arrangement of events that make up a narrative (story). Plot = sequence of causally related events


In most stories, the events arise out of conflict experienced by the main character. Conflict: the central struggle between 2 or more opposing forces. A conflict maybe internal or external.

Conflict (cont.)

Internal conflict: main character vs. self External conflict: Main character vs. other characters Main character vs. society Main character vs. nature Main character vs. fate/the supernatural

Plot structure

Exposition: Introduction of characters & setting Complication/Rising action: Developing conflict Climax/Crisis/Turning point: The highest, most dramatic point - conflict resolved Falling action Denouement/Resolution/Conclusion Closed vs. Open plot

Plot devices

Flashback: a motion picture term the insertion of a scene representing an earlier event into the narrative sequence Flash-forward: a technique used by the writer to depict, by interrupting the flow of time, what is going to occur years after the current situation

Plot devices (cont.)

In media res: in the middle of things beginning a story midway Foreshadowing: the writers use of hints to suggest coming events Pace: the rate of speed with which the writer handles the development of events Suspense: enjoyable anxiety

Plot devices (cont.)

Epiphany: a moment of insight, discovery or revelation by which a characters life, or view of life, is greatly altered. Twist: a clever surprise in the plot Surprise ending: an ending in the story that takes the reader by surprise legitimate vs. illegitimate surprise ending

Analyzing plot

What is the storys central conflict? Who is the main character? What does he/she want? What stands in the way of the main characters easily achieving his/her goal? What are the main events that take place in the story? How does each event relate to the main characters struggle?

Analyzing plot (cont.)

Where do you find the storys climax? Is the conflict resolved? If so, how? Does the main character succeed in achieving his/her goals? In a sentence, summarize the denouement/resolution. Do you find it satisfactory? Why or why not?