Plot Development

by Finn Thompson
(Newtown, Pennsylvania)

Question: Hi. I am a student at Sol Feinstone Elementary School, and my teacher has asked me to create a powerpoint on how to have a good plot development. I don't know where to start! What should I do?

Answer: Start with the following article, which deals with traditional story structure, dating back to Aristotle (the first person in Western tradition to study story structure). Here's the link:

In particular, note Aristotle's 3 observations and the 5-part story structure. These are the basis of plot development as followed by Shakespeare and most writers throughout history.

Next, look at the article on plot development:

In particular, note that there are 4 types of stories, depending on the main character's decision at the climax and whether the Story Goal is achieved.

Those two articles should give you most of what you need to about the "progressive" plot events. They are called "progressive" because these events occur in a particular order, from the beginning of the story to the end, with each event leading to the next in a cause and effect chain.

The only thing I would add is the idea of the main character's arc, which runs parallel to the main plot. Essentially, a main character:

1. Begins as one type of person.
2. Is pressured to change.
3. Decides at the climax whether or not to change.
4. Reaps the consequences of his choice (happiness or unhappiness).

I'm guessing that may be all you need for your project. It's as much as most people ever learn. But if you want to go a step further and really impress, check out the article on Creating a Plot Outline in 8 Easy Steps:

This article covers the "static" plot elements. They are called static because it doesn't matter what order they appear in, as long as they appear somewhere in the story. They are the oppositions that create dramatic tension.

Best of luck.

Comments for Plot Development

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Jan 25, 2012
by: Finn Thompson

Thank you so much for this information! It is really helping!

Feb 06, 2012
How To Write A Book Screenplay Script
by: Jesus

Wanna write a book. Just plot it out as per:

Feb 09, 2012
Re: Jesus' suggestion
by: Glen

Kal Bashir's material is certainly a useful tool for looking at story structure, particularly in his elucidation of progressive plot elements. Where I would personally quarrel is that Bashir tries to reduce all stories to one universal (though extremely complex) structure, to the point that he implies every story is the same.

I prefer Dramatica because it allows for thousands of different but dramatically sound structures. Dramatica also explains how changing one element of a story necessitates changing other elements in order to keep the structure sound.

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