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Created by: Team English -, Last Updated: April 25, 2024


A plot is the sequence of events that make up a story, detailing the main actions, conflicts, and motivations that propel the narrative forward. In literature, the plot encompasses the introduction where characters and settings are established, the rising action presenting challenges or conflicts, the climax which is the turning point of the story, followed by the falling action, and finally, the resolution where conflicts are resolved and the story concludes. A well-constructed plot is crucial for engaging the reader, maintaining suspense, and delivering a satisfying conclusion that reflects the themes and messages of the work.

What is a Plot?

A plot is the organized pattern of events in a story, designed to present a meaningful narrative arc. It involves the introduction of characters and setting, development of a central conflict, escalation through rising action, culmination in a climax, and resolution in the story’s conclusion. The plot ensures coherence and engages the reader by creating emotional connections with the characters and building anticipation for the outcome.

Pronunciation of Plot

The pronunciation of the word “plot” is straightforward. It is pronounced as:


Here, “pl” sounds like the “pl” in “plus,” and “ot” rhymes with “cot.”

The stress is on the first syllable, making it sound like /plɑt/ in phonetic transcription.

Types of Plots

Types of Plots

Stories are driven by plots that shape the narrative and engage readers. Here’s a simplified look at some common types of plots found in literature and film, each offering unique storytelling opportunities:

  1. Quest Plot
    • This plot involves a hero who embarks on a journey to achieve a goal or find an item of value. Throughout their adventure, they encounter various obstacles that test their resolve.
    • Example: “The Wizard of Oz” – Dorothy’s quest to return home.
  2. Adventure Plot
    • Focuses on excitement and exploration, often featuring a protagonist who travels to new places and tackles unexpected challenges.
    • Example: “Around the World in Eighty Days” – Phileas Fogg’s global adventure.
  3. Pursuit Plot
    • This is all about the chase. One character is trying to catch another, and the excitement builds as the pursuit goes on.
    • Example: “Catch Me If You Can” – a cat-and-mouse game between a con artist and an FBI agent.
  4. Rescue Plot
    • The hero’s mission is to save someone from danger. This plot is filled with daring rescues and close calls.
    • Example: “Finding Nemo” – Marlin’s journey to rescue his son.
  5. Riddle Plot
    • Centered around solving a mystery. The protagonist must uncover secrets and decipher clues to solve the puzzle.
    • Example: “Sherlock Holmes” stories – Holmes solving various mysteries.
  6. Rivalry Plot
    • This plot showcases a competition between two characters, often with contrasting values.
    • Example: “Harry Potter” – Harry’s ongoing conflict with Draco Malfoy.
  7. Underdog Plot
    • The story of a less likely hero facing tough odds but ultimately triumphing.
    • Example: “Ratatouille” – Remy, the rat chef, proves his culinary skills against all odds.
  8. Temptation Plot
    • Focuses on the protagonist’s moral struggle when faced with a tempting but potentially harmful choice.
    • Example: “The Godfather” – Michael Corleone’s temptation towards power and its consequences.
  9. Transformation Plot
    • The protagonist undergoes a significant change, often as a result of overcoming a major challenge or realizing an important truth.
    • Example: “Beauty and the Beast” – the Beast’s transformation through love.
  10. Maturation Plot
    • This plot follows a character’s growth from youth to adulthood, exploring their experiences and the lessons they learn.
    • Example: “The Catcher in the Rye” – Holden Caulfield’s journey through teenage angst and self-discovery.

Elements of Plot

A good story captivates us with a well-structured plot, which is simply the sequence of events that unfold in a narrative. Let’s break down the essential elements of a plot to make it easy to understand:

1. Exposition

  • This is where the story starts. We meet the characters, learn about the setting, and get introduced to the main conflict or problem.
  • Example: In “Charlotte’s Web,” we meet Wilbur, the pig, and learn about his home on the farm.

2. Rising Action

  • This part of the story builds tension. Characters face challenges and the initial conflict intensifies, leading up to the climax.
  • Example: In “Finding Nemo,” Marlin faces various challenges in the ocean as he searches for his son.

3. Climax

  • This is the most exciting point of the story, where the main conflict reaches its peak. The outcome of the story hangs in balance.
  • Example: In “Cinderella,” the climax occurs at midnight when Cinderella must flee the ball, leaving behind her glass slipper.

4. Falling Action

  • Things start to calm down in this part. The conflict begins to resolve as the story moves towards its conclusion.
  • Example: In “The Lion King,” after Simba defeats Scar, the falling action shows the Pride Lands beginning to recover.

5. Resolution

  • The story wraps up. The conflicts are resolved, and we see what life is like for the characters after the climax.
  • Example: At the end of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” Harry returns to the Dursleys for the summer, having finished his first year at Hogwarts.

6. Conflict

  • Conflict is the challenge the characters need to overcome. It’s what drives the plot forward and keeps the story interesting.
  • Example: In “To Kill a Mockingbird,” the main conflict centers around Atticus Finch defending Tom Robinson in a racially charged trial.

Some Common Plot Structures

Plot structures provide a framework for telling a story, guiding how events unfold from beginning to end. Understanding different plot structures can help writers create compelling narratives and readers recognize patterns in storytelling. Here are some of the most common plot structures used in literature and film:

1. The Three-Act Structure

This is one of the most popular structures, dividing the story into three parts: the Setup (introducing characters and the conflict), the Confrontation (with lots of action and the main conflict), and the Resolution (where conflicts resolve).

  • Example: Most Hollywood films, like “Star Wars,” follow this structure.

2. The Hero’s Journey

Inspired by Joseph Campbell’s model, this structure features a hero who leaves their ordinary world to face challenges in an unfamiliar world. After overcoming these, they return home, changed and wiser.

  • Example: “The Hobbit” sees Bilbo Baggins embark on an adventure that transforms him from a cautious hobbit into a brave hero.

3. Fichtean Curve

This structure focuses on building tension rapidly before reaching a climax and swiftly concluding with a resolution. It’s characterized by a series of rising actions and complications that propel the plot forward.

  • Example: “Gone Girl” uses this structure to maintain suspense and drama throughout the narrative.

4. In Medias Res

Latin for “in the middle of things,” this structure starts the story in the middle of the action, before explaining how characters got there. It’s used to engage the audience right away.

  • Example: “The Odyssey” begins with Odysseus trapped on an island, with the previous events told through flashbacks.

5. Parallel Plot

This structure presents two or more simultaneous threads of action that may intersect and influence each other. It is often used to build complexity and depth.

  • Example: “The Godfather” weaves Michael Corleone’s rise to power with parallel plots involving other family members.

6. Nonlinear Narrative

Breaking away from chronological order, this structure might use flashbacks, flash-forwards, or other disjointed narrative techniques to tell the story.

  • Example: “Pulp Fiction” famously uses a nonlinear narrative to interweave different stories out of chronological order.

7. Circular Structure

In this structure, the story ends where it began, making a full circle. Themes or scenes at the beginning are mirrored in the end, often highlighting character growth or change.

  • Example: “Fight Club” starts and ends with the protagonist confronting his alter-ego, reflecting a deep exploration of identity.

Plot vs. Story

Plot vs. Story
DefinitionThe sequence of events arranged specifically to reveal their dramatic, thematic, and emotional significance.The chronological sequence of events that includes all the events of the narrative.
FocusOn how events are organized and presented to build tension, climax, and resolution.On the raw sequence of events, including background details and sub-events.
StructureTypically follows a structured pattern (e.g., three-act structure, hero’s journey).Can be told in any order, sometimes even disjointedly or as experienced by characters.
PurposeTo engage the audience by creating a well-crafted narrative arc.To relate all the events that happen, often adding depth and context.
ImpactDrives the emotional and psychological engagement through conflict and resolution.Provides a broader understanding of the characters’ lives and the world they inhabit.
ExampleIn “The Great Gatsby,” the plot focuses on Gatsby’s pursuit of Daisy and its consequences.The story of “The Great Gatsby” includes all events, like Gatsby’s past and aftermath.

Examples of Plot in sentences

  1. Overcoming the Monster: A young warrior faces tremendous odds to defeat a terrifying beast that has terrorized his village for generations.
  2. Rags to Riches: An orphaned girl, mistreated by her caretakers, discovers her unique talent, which leads her to fame and fortune, transforming her life completely.
  3. The Quest: A band of heroes embarks on a perilous journey to find a legendary artifact that will save their world from an impending doom.
  4. Voyage and Return: After being swept away to a fantastical realm, a curious boy navigates strange lands and creatures to find his way back home, changed and wiser.
  5. Comedy: Misunderstandings and mistaken identities lead to comedic chaos at a family reunion, only to be resolved with revelations and reconciliations.
  6. Tragedy: A powerful king, blinded by his arrogance, makes a series of decisions that lead to his own downfall and the destruction of his family.
  7. Rebirth: Following a near-death experience, a cynical businessman reevaluates his life, leading to a heartfelt change that mends his relationships and brings joy.
  8. Mystery: A detective delves into the puzzling circumstances surrounding an ancient manuscript, uncovering secrets that have been hidden for centuries.
  9. Forbidden Love: Two individuals from rival families fall in love, triggering a series of clandestine meetings and conflicts that culminate in a choice between love and family loyalty.
  10. Sacrifice: A soldier sacrifices his chance at returning home in order to save his platoon during a critical mission, earning him posthumous honors for his bravery.

Examples of Plot in literature

The plot in literature refers to the sequence of events that make up a story, typically involving characters facing conflicts and undergoing changes. It encompasses the exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. Examples include:

  1. “Romeo and Juliet” by William Shakespeare: The feud between the Montagues and Capulets leads to the tragic love story of Romeo and Juliet.
  2. “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee: Atticus Finch defends Tom Robinson, revealing the racism in Maycomb.
  3. “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald: Jay Gatsby’s pursuit of Daisy Buchanan ends tragically.
  4. “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” by J.K. Rowling: Harry discovers his magical abilities and confronts Voldemort.
  5. “1984” by George Orwell: Winston rebels against the oppressive regime of Big Brother.
  6. “The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger: Holden Caulfield’s journey through New York City leads to his mental breakdown.
  7. “The Lord of the Rings” by J.R.R. Tolkien: Frodo Baggins embarks on a quest to destroy the One Ring.
  8. “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen: Elizabeth Bennet’s journey of self-discovery and love.
  9. “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins: Katniss Everdeen fights for survival in a dystopian society.
  10. “Moby-Dick” by Herman Melville: Captain Ahab’s obsession with the white whale drives the narrative towards tragedy

Examples of Plot in movies

Plot in movies is like a roadmap guiding audiences through a story’s twists and turns. It’s the sequence of events that keep viewers engaged, typically comprising exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. Let’s explore some iconic examples across various genres:

  1. “The Godfather” (1972): Follows the transformation of Michael Corleone from an outsider to the head of a powerful mafia family, navigating loyalty, betrayal, and tragedy.
  2. “Inception” (2010): Delivers a mind-bending journey as Dom Cobb leads a team into the dreams of others to plant or steal ideas, blurring the lines between reality and illusion.
  3. “Titanic” (1997): Chronicles the ill-fated love story between Jack and Rose aboard the RMS Titanic, amidst the backdrop of one of history’s most infamous disasters.
  4. “The Shawshank Redemption” (1994): Captures the resilience and hope of Andy Dufresne, wrongly imprisoned for murder, as he meticulously plans his escape from Shawshank State Penitentiary.
  5. “The Matrix” (1999): Introduces Neo to a dystopian reality where humanity is enslaved by machines, as he grapples with his identity and destiny as the prophesied savior.
  6. “Pulp Fiction” (1994): Weaves together interconnected stories of crime, redemption, and dark humor, showcasing the lives of various characters in Los Angeles.
  7. “The Dark Knight” (2008): Explores the complex dynamic between Batman and the Joker, as Gotham City becomes the battleground for their moral and philosophical ideologies.
  8. “Forrest Gump” (1994): Traces the extraordinary life of Forrest Gump, a simple man with a low IQ, as he inadvertently influences several significant historical events in America.
  9. “Jurassic Park” (1993): Unleashes chaos when a theme park featuring genetically engineered dinosaurs suffers a catastrophic breakdown, forcing characters to confront their survival instincts.
  10. “The Silence of the Lambs” (1991): Follows FBI trainee Clarice Starling as she seeks the help of incarcerated cannibal Hannibal Lecter to catch the elusive serial killer Buffalo Bill, delving into the depths of human psychology and manipulation.

Examples of Plot in a story

Plot in a story refers to the sequence of events that unfold, driving the narrative forward and keeping readers engaged. It typically includes five key elements: exposition (introduction of characters and setting), rising action (development of conflict), climax (the turning point), falling action (resolution of the conflict), and resolution (conclusion of the story).

  1. “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe: The narrator meticulously plans and executes the murder of an old man, but his guilt eventually leads to his confession.
  2. “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins: Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take her sister’s place in a deadly televised competition, navigating alliances, betrayals, and her own survival.
  3. “The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger: Holden Caulfield embarks on a journey of self-discovery in New York City, grappling with alienation, loss, and the complexities of growing up.
  4. “The Lord of the Rings” by J.R.R. Tolkien: Frodo Baggins sets out to destroy the One Ring, encountering various obstacles and foes along the way, culminating in the epic battle of good versus evil.
  5. “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen: Elizabeth Bennet navigates the social conventions of 19th-century England while grappling with her own prejudices and eventually finding love with Mr. Darcy.
  6. “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald: Jay Gatsby throws extravagant parties in pursuit of his lost love, Daisy Buchanan, but his obsession ultimately leads to tragedy.
  7. “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” by J.K. Rowling: Harry Potter discovers he is a wizard and attends Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where he confronts the dark wizard Voldemort and uncovers the truth about his past.
  8. “The Odyssey” by Homer: Odysseus embarks on a perilous journey home from the Trojan War, facing obstacles such as monsters, gods, and his own hubris, before finally reuniting with his family.
  9. “Moby-Dick” by Herman Melville: Captain Ahab leads his crew on a vengeful quest to kill the white whale Moby Dick, but his obsession ultimately leads to their destruction.
  10. “Romeo and Juliet” by William Shakespeare: The young lovers Romeo and Juliet defy their feuding families to be together, but their tragic fate is sealed by a series of misunderstandings and misfortunes.

Examples of Plot in books

  1. “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain: It’s about Huck Finn, a young boy, and Jim, a runaway slave, who travel down the Mississippi River. They meet different people and face tough choices.
  2. “The Da Vinci Code” by Dan Brown: A Harvard professor named Robert Langdon and a cryptologist named Sophie Neveu team up to solve a murder and uncover a big secret involving the Catholic Church and a treasure.
  3. “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” by Stieg Larsson: It’s about a journalist named Mikael Blomkvist and a hacker named Lisbeth Salander. They try to find a missing girl and discover some dark secrets in Sweden.
  4. “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini: This book tells the story of Amir, a boy from Afghanistan, and his friend Hassan. They face betrayal and try to make things right in a country torn by war.
  5. “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn: On their anniversary, Nick Dunne’s wife, Amy, goes missing. Nick becomes the prime suspect, and the story becomes a game between husband and wife.
  6. “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins: In a future world, Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take her sister’s place in a deadly competition. She fights to survive and sparks a rebellion.
  7. “The Name of the Wind” by Patrick Rothfuss: This book is about Kvothe, a talented musician and magician, who tells his life story. He learns magic and seeks revenge against dangerous beings.
  8. “The Martian” by Andy Weir: Astronaut Mark Watney is stranded on Mars. He uses his smarts to survive until help arrives.
  9. “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green: It’s about Hazel, a girl with cancer, who falls for Augustus, another cancer patient. They deal with illness and love.
  10. “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy: A father and son travel through a bleak world after an apocalypse. They struggle to survive and stay human.

Examples of Plot for students

  1. “The Tortoise and the Hare”: A slow tortoise challenges a fast hare to a race. The hare is confident and takes a nap, but the tortoise keeps going and wins the race through perseverance.
  2. “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”: Goldilocks enters the house of three bears and tries their porridge, chairs, and beds. She finds one of everything that is just right for her, but the bears return home.
  3. “Little Red Riding Hood”: Little Red Riding Hood goes to visit her grandmother with a basket of goodies. She encounters a wolf on the way who tricks her and eats her grandmother. But a woodsman comes to rescue them.
  4. “The Three Little Pigs”: Three pigs build houses out of straw, sticks, and bricks. A big bad wolf tries to blow down their houses. The first two pigs’ houses collapse, but the third pig’s brick house withstands the wolf’s huffing and puffing.
  5. “Cinderella”: A kind-hearted girl named Cinderella is mistreated by her stepmother and stepsisters. With the help of her fairy godmother, she attends a royal ball where she meets the prince. She leaves behind a glass slipper, which the prince uses to find her.
  6. “Jack and the Beanstalk”: Jack trades his cow for magic beans, which grow into a huge beanstalk overnight. He climbs the beanstalk and discovers a giant’s castle. He steals treasures and escapes, eventually cutting down the beanstalk to defeat the giant.
  7. “The Ugly Duckling”: A duckling is ridiculed for being ugly by his siblings and other animals. He grows up feeling sad until he discovers he is actually a beautiful swan.
  8. “The Gingerbread Man”: A gingerbread man comes to life and runs away from various characters who want to eat him. He eventually meets a fox who tricks him into being eaten.
  9. “The Lion King”: A young lion named Simba grows up and learns about responsibility and bravery from his father, Mufasa. After Mufasa’s death, Simba must reclaim his throne from his uncle Scar.
  10. “Finding Nemo”: A clownfish named Marlin embarks on a journey to find his son, Nemo, who has been captured by divers. Along the way, Marlin faces various challenges and meets new friends like Dory, a forgetful blue tang fish.

What is best definition of Plot?

The plot is the sequence of events that make up the storyline of a narrative, including exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution.

What is Plot in a story?

The plot in a story is the sequence of events that make up the narrative, including the introduction of characters, development of conflict, climax, and resolution.

Is Plot and summary the same?

No, plot and summary are not the same. Plot refers to the sequence of events that make up the storyline of a narrative, while a summary is a brief overview or recap of the main points or events in a story.

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