What Is A Plot Of A Story? 7 Basic Plots To Create An Engaging Story

There are many essential elements at play in creative writing. Story plot is one of them.

Have you ever considered what a story plot is? Have you ever experienced reading a good story and wondered what makes it so captivating?

More often than not, it is how the writer lets the story unfold. Much thought is put into it, and it is the very essence of what pulls a reader into the story.

You need to grab the reader’s attention and keep them engaged and interested throughout the story. This is where a good story plot comes in and why it matters so much.

Elements such as plot structure can be used to build a story. It is not tied to one event.

What makes a good strong plot element, and how you can take the protagonist through the various story events to ensure that you build things up until you get to the ending makes for a compelling and complete narrative.

This may sound like a lot to cover, but you will find that a good plot outline and some thoughts about the main plot elements can get you to where you want to be. This is what good stories are built upon. And, this is the perfect way to answer the question, “what is a plot of a story”.

What Is a Plot in a Story?

Let us begin by looking at a plot structure and how you can focus on it as you delve into your story writing.

First and foremost, the plot point is the overriding purpose of the story. The story structure is based on it, and it goes into what makes your story enticing and exciting to read.

The plot is the central theme, reason, or cause of this story and draws readers in and keeps them reading. The reader will begin to see the plot unfold, but it is essentially what makes your main characters through a sequence of events.

It is like a cause and effect, and the main plot will keep the reader on the edge of their seat.

Understanding the Plot Elements

Plot elements are critical to developing a great plot and the key to a great story.

There are five main elements that are used to create compelling storylines.

These five important elements are the introduction, rising action, turning point, falling action, and conclusion. Having all of these elements means that the story will be engaging and keep the reader’s interest.

Below we unpack the details of each element so you know how to include them in writing your own story.

what is a plot of a story

1. Creating a Meaningful Introduction

The introduction is where the audience gets to know the main characters and develops a sense of the story. It is also the beginning of the plot, and it should set the scene and tone, as it is also the foundation of the other elements of the story.

This is the point where characters are introduced along with the setting and other pertinent details. Think of this part as similar to the foundation of a house. It takes time to get it right, and it is what the rest of the house is built on; hence, you want to make sure that it is strong enough to support it.

2. The Importance of the Rising Action

You may not be familiar with the term rising action, mainly if you have never written a short story. This is where things start to build up, and therefore rising action is such a pivotal part of creating your overall story.

Also, this is where you see the real build-up of the story, as the rising action is so important to the details of the story you want to tell. You will see things start to build upon each other, and the details of the overall plot begin to show themselves.

This is where the real story starts, and you can start to see the beginning of the story arc. This is what will keep people tuned in and wanting more. You begin to entice them and create that build-up, and then it just keeps going from there. Things are getting better.

3. What Is a Plot of a Story: The Pivotal Turning Point

This element is also known as the climax, or when the story takes a turn.

All the build-up takes you to this point, and then it is as if it will reach some sort of crescendo. The story’s turning point is where you see things come to a head.

The protagonist must make some difficult decisions, or just when things are getting good, and they come to a screeching halt.

The reader may be remarkably invested and protest this part of the story because the narrative start to go in a different direction. Everything is good, and then suddenly, the protagonist is in a bad situation or faced with some adversity or challenges.

what is a plot of a story

4. What Falling Action Can Bring to a Story

Another important element of a short story is the falling action.

This is where you see things starting to get settled, or the story’s conflict is beginning to get resolved. Also, the story begins to go in a certain direction, and the loose ends start to connect.

There are often significant events and lessons learned here, which help the protagonist learn and grow.

You are coming down from the dramatic arc, and now you are headed towards the story’s final outcome. You are not quite there yet as the story’s conflict is being resolved, and the protagonist is learning some lessons.

You are, however, headed towards the end, and you can feel the tension start to go away.

5. The Vital Conclusion or Ending

This is where the final outcome reveals itself, and hopefully, it is a happy ending. However, the reality is that when you look at a plot diagram and the various elements involved within creating that, the conclusion is essential.

Finally, complicated issues are resolved, truths are revealed, and the outcome becomes the focus of the story.

Hopefully, the reader feels some resolve as the story comes to an end. Things may be open-ended for the next part of the story, or this may be the end of the journey. The conclusion wraps things up and helps tie all of the various elements together.

What Is a Plot Diagram in a Story?

When creating a plot, often a plot diagram is incredibly beneficial to utilize.

A plot diagram visually represents the flow of the five elements of the plot in a three act structure: the beginning, middle, and end.

Its appearance may vary slightly as you can create and recreate your own unique storyline and plot.

A plot diagram helps you make sense of the entire story to narrate it effectively. It allows you to form a systematic way of relaying your story and increases your focus on the sequence of events that need to occur throughout the narrative.

When analyzing others’ stories, you can also use plot diagrams to dissect the plot parts.

what is a plot of a story
Example of a plot diagram

Adding Drama to the Plot of a Story

When you think about a good plot, it is about the drama added to the story. This may be the tragic past of the main character, or it may be watching the character’s transformation.

You may see major events scattered throughout the story that create tension. Instead, you may find that the hero’s journey is full of suspense and adversity that challenges them.

You can add so much to the plot of a story where drama is concerned, but you often want it to be centered around adversity or some sort of central conflict. You do not want to face this in your life, but it is certainly fun to read about it.

Consider the Type of Plot

There are so many different plots that you can focus your story around. As you write your story, a plot may suddenly enter your mind to include in what you are writing.

Another alternative is to think about what you want your story to tell. The more thought you put into it, the more the story may come to you along the way.

You may wish to choose from a few different plot types as a general overriding theme to the story. A few different types of plots to consider are a tragedy, comedy, hero’s journey, fairy tale, rags to riches, rebirth, good vs. bad, and voyage and return.

You may wish to think through each of these plot points, what it is all about, and which seems the best fit for your story.

1. What Tragedy Can Add to a Story

Simply put, this is tragic, and there are a lot of sad elements that add to this story type.

The main character goes through serious adversity, and things almost always go from good to bad. This is a strong plot because you can write so much emotion into it.

Many stories in this genre feature main characters who are loners or have nobody on their side. These are very dramatic, and there is often no happy ending.

The writer makes the reader feel emotion for the characters and wonder if they will ever get a break or find true and lasting happiness.

2. Turning Your Attention Towards Comedy

This is a fun twist and departure from the mundane or depressing. A comedy is so fun to write, and the basic structure may be based on irony, strange coincidences, or a hilarious chain of events. Writing comedy can help to have a rather outlandish sense of humor.

You want to be sure that you are focused on the more important things happening to the characters. You also want to be sure that you put detail into the story to build it up to the comic element.

It may not be the easiest to write, but it can be entertaining. It gives you a nice break from the monotony. It ensures that you have a plot type different from the rest, where the characters will be interesting and find unusual and humorous circumstances.

3. The Beloved Hero’s Journey

This is at the core of most stories that are well-loved read through the years, such as J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Series.

In the hero’s journey, there is recognition of something significant. Then there is a reversal or like a lesson learned.

The hero in the main story, Harry Potter, recognizes that something is amiss or has happened in their lives. Then, they learn from this and try to do their part to make it right or reverse it.

This is where you get into some great characters. It is pretty interesting to follow the cause and effect relationship in the events, from that inciting incident at the beginning to the final resolution of the problem or issue at hand.

what is a plot of a story

4. The Fairy Tales We All Love

This is like the fairy tale many of us had read and loved when we were children. These stories focus on the rags to riches storyline, resulting in a turnaround in the protagonist’s fate.

Something happened to these characters to take them from nothing to everything. There is often a happily ever after element in many plots of these stories. It is easy and fun to follow along and see what happens to the main stars as they build up from a challenging life to the new life they always wanted.

5. The Feel Good Rebirth in a Story

This is a reflective type of plot that we love to witness unfold. It may have started with a little girl who started doing okay but suddenly went down the wrong path. Then the story unfolds to explain why other characters are suddenly flawed and go down a deep dark route.

From there, it is all about watching the dramatic situation that helps to change the path of one character —this character faces the demon and wants to be good again, though this character may have led a terrible life up to this point.

You may think of characters such as Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol,” where he gets to reflect on his life. Then, he faced his reality and decided to change and be a good person—such a gratifying ending.

6. Good vs. Bad

This is an epic story of good vs. bad that plays out in front of you, like in Star Wars.

You see the protagonist, the good side, matched up against the antagonist, which is the bad side. In these stories, good often prevails, but not without a fight. There is usually some climactic moment in how the good struggles and perseveres to win the battle.

The battle may be part of the falling action, and this is where you may often see the good start to win out.

This is a story of epic proportions as the protagonist sets a happily ever after scene, but they had to go through many obstacles to get there. Just as in Star Wars, the journey often leads characters such as this to a joyous ending, but it did not come easy.

7. The Simple Voyage and Return

You can consider this story as one based on gathering wisdom. The characters in this story go on a pilgrimage or journey to answer some dramatic questions.

These characters face some climactic moments and learn from their experiences. You will often see these characters set forth on a dramatic story full of pain, suffering, adversity, and many lessons to learn.

This can be very rewarding to see them go from one point to another and learn something along the way.

Why Plot Development Matters So Much to Your Story

You see the various plot types and even the five elements of a great plot.

You understand why some narratives, whether they be long form novels or short stories, follow a specific path, while others have some climactic moments that define things. It may be the build-up, the falling action, or the character’s internal struggle that grabs you and pulls you into the story.

For sure, though, the plot of the story defines it and makes people want to read more.

In other words, the plot is the reason a story exists. You may read about a story’s main conflict or have great expectations of where the protagonist is headed on their journey.

The plot of a story is fun to read about, even more, enjoyable to write about, and can bring great satisfaction to everyone. Put the right amount of thought into the plot and the characters, and you will find that the story is one to remember for years to come.

What Is a Plot Summary?

A plot summary requires the relaying of a story more concisely. It typically includes all the highlights of the five elements of the story, albeit like a rough sketch.

The minute details are excluded, such as a character’s collection of bags, except if this collection has to do with the character development, attitude, or success or downfall.

Only crucial information is included, as a plot summary should only have 300 words on average. Despite its short length, a plot summary is expected to give a juicy overview of the story and contribute to enhancing the story structure.

On the other hand, some plot summaries do not include the ending since they are specifically crafted to persuade the audience to discover the resolution through reading the book or watching the movie themselves.

With that being said, before you write a plot summary, determine the most significant events, identify who you are writing for, and reflect on what your purpose is for writing the plot summary.

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