An Example of a Circular Plot Structure

Let's briefly go over an example of a circular plot structure.

A circular plot structure is one where story nodes are connected to others in a circle. Each node is only connected to another story node, and the nodes are always visited in the same order.

Brief on What is a Circular Plot Structure?

A circular plot structure is defined in that each story node is connected to only one other story node, and they are coherent and in the correct order in the story. Depending on this story's length, it can go through the same nodes multiple times. There is a variation of this structure where a story node is placed in the middle of the chart. An example of a circular plot structure commonly used in fiction is "boy meets girl, boy loses girl, and boy gets girl back."

Although the beginning and end of the narrative are similar to one another, just as the introduction and conclusion of an essay are similar to one another, the narrative seldom leaves characters or events unaffected.

Different Uses of Circular Plot Structure


Many poems have a similar first and last stanza. The ballad "La Belle Dame Sans Merci" by John Keats features a question and an answer that nearly use the same language at both the beginning and the end of the ballad.

The narrative begins in the present with a speaker asking a knight what happened to him, moves into the past with the knight's recollection, and then returns to the present when the knight concludes his story. This is an example of a circular temporal structure.

The poem "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight," written in the 14th century, exemplifies the circular narrative's popularity in Arthurian mythology. This particular example is more complex. At Christmastime, Sir Gawain sets out on his quest, and he travels for an entire year before he can fulfill his obligation and return to the court at Christmastime.


Prose novels are notorious for employing cyclical plot structures.

For example, Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland" opens with a picture of a carefree Alice having a good time on the riverbank.

She has a wonderful adventure in Wonderland after falling down a rabbit hole, but her sister wakes her up and brings her back to the riverbank.

Traveling to and from an imaginary world and back to our own is a common trope in science fiction, and fantasy works like C. S. Lewis's "Chronicles of Narnia" series and many others.

Film and Television

Both films and television shows frequently make use of cyclical narrative structures.

For instance, the plot of the film "Looper" revolves around characters who go back in time and are murdered by earlier versions of themselves.

Circularity is not limited to only occurring in genres with one episode at a time.

For instance, in the pilot episode of the television series "Lost," the camera focuses on one of the main characters, Jack, whose eye is closed at the beginning of the episode and then suddenly opens. The camera zooms out to show Jack lying on the ground.

In the series' final episode, Jack is seen lying in the same position as at the beginning of the episode. The camera focuses on his open eye just before it finally closes.



A circular narrative is common in song lyrics of all ages, but it is especially prevalent in music written for children.

For example, because the final phrase of one verse is carried over into the opening of the following verse, "The Song That Never Ends" truly lives up to its name. This allows the song to be played in an endless loop, much to the dread of parents everywhere.

Elvis Presley's ballad "In the Ghetto" is a more somber song that chronicles the vicious cycle of poverty and violence in the housing projects of Chicago. The first and last five lines mirror each other. The song's first few lines go as follows: "As the snow flies/On a cold and gray Chicago mornin'/A poor baby child is born/In the ghetto/And his mama cries."

It comes to a close with the death of that baby, who had grown up to become an "angry young man," and the birth of another baby who is implied to be his son: "As her young man dies,/On a cold and gray Chicago mornin',/Another baby child is born/In the ghetto/And his mama cries."

Here are resources I recommend to get more in-depth knowledge

Storytelling 101 teaches you how to write compelling stories worthy of commercial success. This is best for screenwriters, novelists, filmmakers, videogame writers and storytellers.

Children’s Books 101 teaches you how to write stories that children will love. This is best for aspiring children’s book authors and storytellers.

Owl AI is the revolutionary AI-powered content production platform that helps storytellers, writers, and bloggers of all subject matter easily create highly-polished content.

Success, Money & Mindset Subliminal is a self-hypnosis recording that we recommend to new writers to help with focus, concentration, creativity, and motivation.

Shadow Work Journal: 240 Daily Prompts contains inner work exercises related to relationships, anger, anxiety, self-love, healing trauma, abandonment issues, depression, forgiveness, etc.


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One comment on “An Example of a Circular Plot Structure”

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