The Five Elements of Plot
Why Bother Knowing the Five Elements of Plot?
Understanding and using plot structure is essential! Writers, readers, and students at all levels need to understand story structure too. You need to know this just to be a well rounded, educated person. The five elements of plot help you discuss films, novels, and fictional stories of all types. You've likely learned it in school at least once.
Remember those graphic organizers your English teacher showed you that looked like a mountain with the climax at the top?
(If not, go ahead and draw or think about a mountain shaped curve as we go through the elements.)
Here's a Story Map - See the five elements of plot?
The first element of plot is EXPOSITION.
What is Exposition?
Find out the setting, learn about characters, and get the tone of the story here. The setting includes two parts: where and when. You may or may not be introduced to all of the characters in this first part of the plot, but you will likely learn about the main character, or protagonist. The conflict in the plot is introduced.
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The second element of plot is RISING ACTION.
What is rising action?
The rising actions are the events that take place on the first side of the mountain slope in that elements of plot graphic organizer. As it goes up and up, you can tell it's leading to something, but what? The conflict develops further in the rising action. In the best case scenario, rising action makes you want to find out what will happen.
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The third element of plot is the CLIMAX!
What is the climax?
Climax is the part where something big happens. It's the turning point of the plot. The climax is usually not long, but it's what you've been waiting for. The climax is the peak of the mountain, often quite intense and filled with emotion.
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The fourth element of plot is FALLING ACTION.
What is falling action?
Now you're headed down the other side of the slope. All of the actions that happen after the climax are falling action. There is no more conflict.
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The fifth element of plot is the RESOLUTION.
What is the resolution?
Of all the elements of plot, this one is usually quite satisfying. The resolution tells what ended up happening. It's the end. You're off the mountain now.
Who Are You? Writer? Teacher? Student?
I need to know about plot structure because I'm a....
How Students Use the Five Elements of Plot
In an English class, you may be asked questions to prove how well you have read and comprehended a piece of literature. If you're asked what the exposition, rising action, problem, climax or resolution of a story is, you'd better know what those terms mean. Also, if you know what the main problem of the story is, and where the climax was, you truly will understand the story well.
Students will be asked to write narratives (stories) pretty often. You can use the five elements of plot to plan your story in your pre-writing. If you write a story that contains all five elements of plot, you will automatically have a strong beginning, middle, and end. Stories that go on and on and on, boring the reader, usually do not contain all five elements of plot.
How Teachers Use the Five Elements of Plot
As a teacher of language arts, you will likely teach students to read, write, and comprehend stories. To do that well, you'll teach the five elements of plot, and have students use the vocabulary for the parts of a story. It helps your students to logically analyze stories in order to comprehend what they read, as well as to create logically organized written works of their own.
How Any Person Uses the Five Elements of Plot
Do you read books and watch movies? Cool. Now you have some vocabulary to help you discuss the stories you read and watch with others. For example, in a discussion of a book, you might say that you loved the rising action that lead to the climax because there was so much suspense to it. However, the resolution just wasn't satisfying, because you never knew what happened to Josie. See? When you know the basic parts of a story, that gives you words to talk about those parts.
Plot is not only the storyline of fiction writing. It can also be used to help organize nonfiction personal narratives, histories, biographies, and more.