What are the basic plot structures?

Let's go over what are the basic plot structures and the different types of basic plot structures.

A Brief Look at What is a Plot?

The plot is the fundamental order of events in a story or work of literature. An inciting incident is what initiates a plot by compelling the main character to take action and embark on a quest. Conflicts and tensions arise along the way to help the plot develop a narrative arc.

Different Types of Basic Plot Structures

These standard elements of plot structure will help you create any story you have in mind, be it a short story or a novel of considerable length. Mix and match them in any way your narrative requires, and make them your own.

3-Act Structure

Telling a story in three acts is very popular in screenwriting.

In the first act of your novel, you should familiarize the reader with the story's setting, establish the stakes that spark the plot, and introduce the main characters.

The second act consists of a series of events to challenge the protagonist and their response to those challenges.

Finally, in the third act, all of the tension that has been building up as a result of the events of the previous acts finally reaches its peak, after which the subsequent fallout and resolution take place to wrap up loose ends.

This can be easily applied to a short story with a more condensed sequence of events.

Freytag's Pyramind: 7-Plot Point Structure

In the nineteenth century, Gustav Freytag was a prominent figure in German theater as a playwright. Character growth and events in the story's progression are woven together in this narrative structure that bears his name today.

Freytag's Pyramid consists of:

  • exposition
  • inciting incident
  • rising action
  • climax
  • falling action
  • resolution
  • denouement.

The seven-plot point structure is commonly found in thrillers. For example, in Aristotle's Poetics, Oedipus Rex sets out to discover the cause of the plague on Thebes (the precipitating event), becoming king (part of the journey), and ultimately discovering that he is the cause of the plague after the story (the question is answered).

The Hero's Journey

The Hero's Journey is a twelve point plot structure. There are a total of three (pr sometimes four) sections.

The Hero's Journey typically starts around a Call to Adventure. Following an initial period of resistance and the introduction to a mentor figure, the protagonist eventually reaches a crossroads, also known as a Point of No Return, at which they are forced to decide whether or not they will continue to the second stage.

The events during this second act reflect a more traditional three-act structure: tests, the pursuit of truth, and a difficult ordeal.

After the tale, the main character returns to the world they started in as a different person than before they went through the entire Hero's Journey.

Does it shed light on the progression of your character?

Do you lack any story elements that could provide you with a solution to your problem?


The "Snowflake" Method

The "Snowflake" method developed by Randy Ingermanson is an organizational approach for a first draft based on the fractal patterns of snowflakes. This method is best suited for writers who are mathematically or design-minded.

It's a ten-step process that delves deep into your story's plot, and it all starts with a straightforward synopsis of your tale, a single sentence that encapsulates what the focus of your soon-to-be-published novel will be.

Next, a paragraph is created out of that single sentence.

After that, each sentence within that paragraph is developed further into its independent paragraph, and so forth.

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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