If an author writes, "The king died and then the queen died," there is no plot for a story. But by writing, "The king died and then the queen died of grief," the writer has provided a plot line for a story.
A plot is a causal sequence of events, the "why" for the things that happen in the story. The plot draws the reader into the character's lives and helps the reader understand the choices that the characters make.
A plot's structure is the way in which the story elements are arranged. Writers vary structure depending on the needs of the story. For example, in a mystery, the author will withhold plot exposition until later in the story. In William Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily" it is only at the end of the story that we learn what Miss Emily has been up to all those years while locked away in her Southern mansion.
Plot not always a straight line from the beginning to the end of a short story. In Ernest Hemingway's story "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber," the action shifts from past to present. This shifting of time is the way we learn what happened and why, and it keeps us interested in the story. But good stories always have all the plot elements in them.
In the a traditional plot structure there are usually 5 elements of plot:
the reader wonders what will happen next – will the conflict be resolved or not?
the action which follows the climax
this is usually quick moving and makes up a small part of the overall story
the falling action leads to the resolution
the conclusion, the tying together of all of the threads
the final outcome or untangling of events in the story so that the reader leaves the story satisfied
Activity 1 - Cinderella: Use the familiar story summary of Cinderella below. Label whether the events are part of the exposition/introduction (2 items), rising action (5 items), climax (1 item), falling action/denouement (1 item), or resolution/conclusion (1 item).
_______________An invitation to the ball arrives at the palace.