Elements of the Plot Map

Contributor: Emily Love. Lesson ID: 10526

Tell your own story! Learn how to write stories with a natural rhythm and flow your reader will enjoy and understand. This lesson includes videos, books, and charts to help organize your thoughts!

categories

Writing

subject
English / Language Arts
learning style
Auditory, Kinesthetic, Visual
personality style
Otter
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!

Audio:

In the novel A Little Princessauthor Frances Hodgson Burnett writes, "Everything's a story—You are a story—I am a story." Why do you think stories are important? Do you think that everyone has a story worth telling? Why or why not?

Maps are created to help us get from one point to another. When we read, we all have expectations that the author has created a story with a beginning, middle, and an end. The same is true with our own writing. When we write—whether it is an essay for history class or an entry in a journal—we begin with one idea and work our way towards an ending, a conclusion.

Writers who set out to tell stories use a device known as a plot map, or diagram, to help their stories stay organized. The elements of the plot diagram are designed to help readers and writers understand how parts of a story fit together in a logical order. 

Before you start learning the terms, take a moment to read the well-known children's story Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak; we'll use this story to help you gain a better understanding of the terms on the plot diagram. If you would like to, you can watch this reading of the story:


These are the terms you need to know: 

  • Exposition: The part of the story that gives the background information about the characters and introduces the initial conflict that starts the story's action; for instance, in Where the Wild Things Are, Max acts like a wild animal, so the initial conflict occurs when he is sent to bed without any supper.
  • Rising Action: A series of related events that build up to the most exciting part of the story; for instance, Max sails to the island where the Wild Things are, and when he gets there, he tames the animals and eventually becomes their king.
  • Climax: The point of excitement in the story when the outcome of the conflict is decided; for instance, Max realizes that he misses home and decides to return.
  • Falling Action: A series of related events that take place after the climax has occurred and the conflict has been resolved; for instance, the Wild Things try to force Max to stay ("roared their terrible roars, gnashed their terrible teeth..."), but he leaves them and makes the long journey home.
  • Resolution: The conclusion of the story is where the main characters are brought to the end of their map; usually, all of the loose ends are tied up, but sometimes the reader has to step deeper into the story and combine inferences with the given information in order to discover the conclusion for him or herself; for instance, Max sees his dinner waiting for him and realizes that his mother really loves him.

Try practicing this on your own by thinking about your favorite book or movie and organizing its plot into these sections. In order to practice, draw a map of your main character's journey, beginning at the exposition and ending at the resolution. You can create symbols that represent the events that create the rising action, the climax, and the falling action.

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