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Elements of Fiction

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The Plot Diagram (Freytag's Pyramid)


Exposition (Introduction)

The exposition is the introduction to a story, including the primary characters' names, setting (time and place), and often establishes mood.

a video from our textbook on setting



The conflict is the primary problem that drives the plot of the story, often a main goal for the protagonist to achieve or overcome.

     man vs man

     man vs nature

     man vs society

     man vs technology

     man vs supernatural

     man vs self

     (scroll down for a video or click)  (My Smore page about conflict)

Inciting Incident

"Every story begins with an inciting incident that sets the main character or characters on the journey that will occupy them throughout the narrative."

Rising Action (Complications)

The rising action of the story is all of the events that lead to the eventual climax, including character development and events that create suspense. I call these event complications because they make the protagonist's journey more difficult.


Climax (Turning Point)

The climax is the most exciting point of the story, and is a turning point for the plot or goals of the main character.

Years ago, a student asked, "What if they story is not exciting?" That's when I began to focus on calling it the turning point. There's always an event in the story that changes everything.


Falling Action

The falling action is everything that happens as a result of the climax, including wrapping-up of plot points, questions being answered, and character development.

You will never hear me talking about falling action.


Conclusion / Resolution / Denouement

The resolution is not always happy, but it does complete the story. It can leave a reader with questions, answers, frustration, or satisfaction.

Warning: You're about to read more than you want to know. Some people just refer to this as the conclusion, but that's just another way of saying "The End." There's a French word you may hear -denouement - which means "untying the knot." (You may here some people say this is where the loose end are all tied up, but that's the opposite of what the word means. The knot represents the problem, and the untying of it is solving the problem. Sometimes, the problem is never solved, and it's not always resolved in the way we (or the protagonist) expects.

(source: with additional notes from Mr. Skipper)

Watch this video

and see if you can identify all of the elements of plot.

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