Five Elements of Plot



This is a basic structure to follow when building a story. It illustrates what every book must have. It’s a cool way to organize your thoughts and get your story straight. Follow the pyramid points below by starting at the beginning and leading your character and story toward the middle, and finally to the end. Just plug in the info and voilà you have a skeleton story from which to build upon.





Exposition is information about the main character, setting, events, or other elements of the story that happened before the main story began. This info is introduced in the beginning and can be sprinkled throughout the narrative. Backstory can be conveyed through dialogue, point of view, flashbacks, etc.

In the case of exposition, less is more!



Rising action is the inciting incident that sets your story in motion. Begin it in chapter one. Progressing from that point, add moments of tension and conflict, as you build toward the climax. Rising action is probably the longest section of your book, the part where you pull out all the stops to create memorable plot twists and surprising action. It’s your chance to make readers continue to turn pages to find out what the hell is going to happen next. Think of yourself as the man behind the curtain in, The Wizard of Oz. You’re pulling the strings and have the answers, but you may not necessarily share what you know with readers until the end.



The climax is one of the most exciting parts of your book. It’s the moment the story has been building to, the place you’ve been leading readers to. As depicted above, the climax is the peak of the pyramid. It’s the spot where tension, plot, and character converge to change everything. Your story is heading toward

the outcome of the stakes you set for your main character. At this point readers are uncertain about where the character and story are headed and that’s exactly where you want your readers to be. You want them guessing and on the edge of their seats, ready for the big reveal. This guarantees they’ll continue flipping pages.


So, you’ve reached the peak of your story, the climax. Now it’s time to head toward resolving the conflicts and subplots you sprinkled throughout your story and those that arose during the climax. It’s the place in your story after the climax but before the resolution. Without incorporating falling action, your ending may feel rushed. Composing the falling action aspect of your story in a careful and calculated way helps lead readers to a satisfying conclusion without going from zero to sixty, crashing, and burning.



This is the end of your story. The place where loose ends get tied up and rewards and consequences are doled out. These are the final scenes where secrets are revealed, winners and losers are evident, and the ending is either satisfying or heartbreaking. If your book is part of a series, wrapping up most of the unfinished business is essential, but ending with a cliffhanger is apropos. Leave readers waiting with bated breath for the next installment.



Hi. I'm Liz Ambrico, freelance proofreader and aspiring author. I too am querying agents, editors, and publishers in hopes of becoming a published author.

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I co-founded and managed a successful author and writer group on Long Island for five years. During events with publishers and authors I learned what matters, what agents are looking for, and the benefits and pitfalls of traditional publishing vs. self-publishing.

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