Plot is one of the essential elements of story (which I wrote about in my blog How to Start Writing). Plot is what drives your story, along with characters. Your plot is your key events that moves your story in the direction that you want it to go. It is what gets your characters from beginning, through the middle, and to the end of the story.
Every story needs a beginning, middle, and end.
This does not need much explanation. The beginning is usually the introductory to the characters and setting. The middle usually starts after the inciting incident and ends at the climax. The end usually starts before or after the climax and finishes after the resolution.
Every plot needs: exposition, inciting incident, rising action, climax, falling action, and the resolution.
Exposition: the intro to characters and setting on a normal day.
Inciting Incident: where everything changes. The point of no return. It’s what sets the story into motion.
Rising Action: this is the meat of the story. This is where the struggles are overcame, where the plot thickens, and where your antagonist’s story grows towards the ever-awaited climax.
Climax: the most exciting part of the story. The turning point where the conflict is at its highest. This where the most dramatic parts of the story happen. A loved character is mortally wounded, or unexpected news is revealed.
Falling Action: the aftermath. This is where the story moves towards resolving the conflict.
Resolution: the conflict is resolved. Usually, the good guy wins. The plot is tied up in a nice big bow, if you’re a nice writer. Some writers aren’t so nice. This is where you write the end of the story. This is where you close the curtains and leave the reader with fulfilment, questions, or even dismay.
These are the bare necessities that your story needs. It’s up to you to put a spin on it. Perhaps you’ll start at the end and work backwards with your plot as a retelling of events. I encourage you to try new things and to put your own spin on these essentials.
Personally, I like to give a fake climax before the real climax. This fake-out is usually unexpected and makes the readers even more excited for the real climax. I also like to give little curveballs during the falling action and resolution. I like adding that little extra drama towards the end to keep the readers entertained and to keep it from becoming boring.
You’ve probably seen the plotting diagram that looks like this: _/\_
I prefer a much bumpier plot. I like to imagine it like a mountain. There will always be the highest peak, where the climax is, but there are some other peaks that are still pretty darn daunting. Most mountains aren’t smooth and structured like that diagram, and neither should your story. Always give your readers a rollercoaster ride.
I once was told (or read) once that you have to put your character up in a tree, with no way to get down. Then you have to throw rocks at them. I would even add a thunderstorm and lightning into the mix. Basically, your character needs to struggle and grow. That’s what a good story about, isn’t it?
Thank you for reading,