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What Is Your Plot?

What is your plot?
What Is Your Plot?

“What Is Your Plot?” by Joan Y. Edwards

I’ve always heard since I was a little girl that a story has a beginning, a middle, and an end.  So plot is the beginning, middle, and end of a story. However, that’s not very specific. For me, that doesn’t ring with the explanation of all a good story has to have.

Wikipedia says: “The plot for a story is a sequence of events carried out by characters or nature where each event affects the next one through the principle of cause-and-effect.”

Beemgee states that each event in a story changes something either in the plot or in the way we, the audience or readers, perceive the characters.

In a story we tell the actions and reactions of the characters. This gives us clues to the emotions that run rampant in this situation for them. A story without a problem is not a true story.. It may list events but if they don’t cause a problem for a character, there is no real story. 

I think the following statements give better hints at what you need to make a great plot. What do you think?

1. Exposition (Beginning-Act 1)

 In the exposition, you give setting, time, and characters, both main and opposing ones along with their flaws on an ordinary day before the bottom drops out of the floor beneath the main character.

2. Inciting Incident

Inciting Incident brings the story’s major question, suspense, and action into being. It creates a problem between two or more characters in the story  –  usually the main character and an opposing character.  Usually the main character wants something and he cannot get it. Something bad happens that causes the main character a big problem both within himself and using the powers he has at the present moment, he can’t fix the problem. Show the inner and outer struggles of the main character for each event. The problem can’t be fixed with one swish. Tell who or what caused the event, how it happened? What happened as a result? 

3. Rising Action Event A (Act II)

Rising Action  Event A is the second problem or worsening of the original problem either caused because of the action, inaction, or reaction of the main character to the problem. Rising Action shows that the first thing the main character does to combat the problem makes it worse and he fails.

4. Rising Action Event B (Act II)

Rising Action Event B is the third problem or worsening of the original problem because of the action, inaction, or reaction of the main character. It may show the second thing they do to combat the problem but it doesn’t work either, It can be a complete surprise and turn the story in a different direction than readers first thought. it makes things unbearable and they believe it will stop them from succeeding with their goal.

5. Climax  (Turning Point, Middle, Act III)

Climax is the event that shows things at their very worst.  Everything seems hopeless. Something happens to make the problem so bad that the main character cannot ignore it any more which makes it the turning point of the plot. The main character is forced by circumstances beyond his control to take action to solve the problem. It’s the point of no return for the main character. He will either win everything or lose it all.  The main character uses his powers to win the fight and attain his goal, or suffer defeat forever.

6. Falling Action Event A

Falling Action – Event A Shows what happens as a result of the win or loss in the climax. It’s a different world with a better ordinary day. The main character faces new problems in a different way than he did before the climax. 

7. Falling Action Event B

in the Falling Action – Event B, the reader finds out what happened as a result of the climax part of the story. This part tends to relax the readers.  It gives readers the happy news and the sad news; of what happened because of the win or loss of the main character in the climax of the story. It tells what happened to the characters in the subplots, too.

8. Resolution (End)

Resolution is the part of the story where the conflict is over and the story concludes. The readers get a look at what the future holds for the main character and the opposing character.


List of Unrelated Events

If you have a list of unrelated events that happen and the list doesn’t tell you who or what caused the event, how it happened or why it happened, or how one event is related to another by cause or effect, it is not the full story, it is not the plot.  

Below are examples of events with no  evidence that any of the events caused one of the other events.
Could you put them in chronological order and give us reason to believe that one of them caused another one to happen.

Accident occurs at Fourth and Main Street, Middleton, Mississippi
50 dogs escape from city pound, Middleton, Mississippi
Old Folks Home closes, Middleton, Mississippi
New mayor takes office, Middleton, Mississippi
Fred Langston moves from Middleton, Mississippi

All of these could be main events and cause problems for many people. These facts, as written above, don’t tell how these events are related or how one could have caused another one. If it doesn’t tell what happened as a result of the first event or any of the events in a story, it does not relate to the plot. of this story.  Here are some words that Edusson says show cause and effect:  because, since, as, and so. Can you name others?

What are some of the keywords that tell you the sequence of events?

A few time order words from Study.com are:: ”first,” ”next,” ”after,” ”today,” ”then,” ”before,” and ”finally.”  Are there others that come to mind?

Can you figure out the time order of the following story without time and sequence words?  Adding keywords to show the sequence of events will help.

  • Santa fell down the chimney.
  • We shouted “Merry Christmas”‘
  • Santa put the gifts under the tree.
  • We offered Santa hot chocolate.
  • Santa drank his hot chocolate.
  • Santa left with a boost up the chimney.
  • We heard a noise on the roof.
  • Santa yelled “Good-bye.”

After adding key time event words, you can put this story in the correct order.

In your novel, you want to describe each plot event. You want to explain:

  • What happened? 
  • What happened as a result of an action?
  • Who or what caused it? (a person or nature that is responsible)
  • When did the event take place?
  • Where did the event take place?
  • Why did the event take place?
  • How did the event take place?

Thank you for reading my blog.  I’d love to hear from you! Please leave a comment or question about plot. Share the plot of your favorite movie or one of your published books, or share what  helps you write a great plot? 

Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards, Author
Firebird Book Award Winner Flip Flap Floodle Will this little duck’s song save him from Mr. Fox?
Copyright © 2009-2023 Joan Y. Edwards

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  1. Hannah Muniz. Prepscholar.com. “What is Plot Definition?” https://blog.prepscholar.com/what-is-plot-definition
  2. Beemgee.com. “How to describe a full plot event,”
  3. Carol Baldwin’s book, “Teaching the Story: Fiction Writing in Grades 4-8” also has graphic organizers in it and a CD packed with good writing process explanations: https://www.amazon.com/Teaching-Story-Fiction-Writing-Grades/dp/1934338354
  4. James Scott Bell. Writers Digest.com. “The Two Pillars of Novel Structure;” https://www.writersdigest.com/write-better-fiction/the-two-pillars-of-novel-structure
  5. JerryJenkins.com. “Plot of a Story:” https://jerryjenkins.com/plot-of-a-story/
  6. joanyedwards.com. “Story Essential: Plot:” https://joanyedwards.com/story-essential-plot/
  7. joanyedwards1@gmail.com. “What? I Need a Plot?”
  8. Ken Miyamoto. Screencraft.org. “Plot Vs Story: What’s the Difference:”https://screencraft.org/2021/02/19/plot-vs-story-whats-the-difference/
  9. Kristen Kieffer. Well-storied.com. “3 Awesome Plot Structures for Building Bestsellers:” https://www.well-storied.com/blog/3-awesome-plot-structures-for-building-bestsellers/
  10. Lit Charts.com. “Plot:” https://www.litcharts.com/literary-devices-and-terms/plot What is the Plot of a Story? – Definition & Examples – Psychology Class [2021 Video] | Study.com
  11. LitCharts.com. “Plot – Definition and Examples:” https://www.litcharts.com/literary-devices-and-terms/plot
  12. Penlighten. “What Does Resolution of Story Mean?” https://penlighten.com/what-does-resolution-of-story-mean#
  13. Study.com. “Sequence of Events Lesson:” https://study.com/academy/lesson/sequence-of-events-lesson-for-kids.html
  14. Study..com. “What is the Plot of a Story? Definition and Examples https://study.com/academy/lesson/what-is-the-plot-of-a-story-definition-examples.html
  15. Template Lab.com. “45 Professional Plot Diagram Templates (Plot Pyramid)” https://templatelab.com/plot-diagram-templates/
  16. Templates.ehq.net. “Plot Diagram Templates:” https://www.templatehq.net/plot-diagram-templates.html
  17. Wikipedia. “Plot:”  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plot_(narrative)#:~:text=Plot

What Is the Theme for Your Story?

What is the Theme for Your Story?

“What Is the Theme for Your Story?” by Joan Y. Edwards

Theme is one of the most difficult story elements to understand. Many people confuse theme with plot. The theme is the author’s view of the world, the moral to their story, the lesson the characters learn in the plot they unfold.

Paul Peditto brought up an interesting topic in my interview of him  on my blog. He figures out his theme first, outlines,  and then writes his story.

Melissa Donovan states, “Some experts have suggested that authors shouldn’t think too much about theme until they’ve produced a draft, while others believe that theme is so integral that it should be present throughout story development.”

  1. Should you figure out the theme before your write the story?
  2. Should you wait until you have written your story to see what the theme turns out to be?

Either way is fine.

What exactly is the theme? How do you figure out the theme of your story? Why is it important to have a strong emotional theme?

Shawn Coyne author of The Story Grid, says theme is the message you want the reader to discover from reading your story.

Jerry Jenkins says, “Plot is what happens. Theme is why it happens.”

Usually when I get an idea for a story I know what the one word theme idea is like love or fear, but how my story unfolds determines what my final view on the theme for this particular story. What do I want the readers to discover about love? Love is long lasting or love fleets like the wind.  What do I want them to learn about fear from the characters in my story? Fear defeats everyone or everyone can defeat fear. People will help you face your fears or fears are dauntless even with help.

Readers want to relate to your story. The theme is how it reaches them on a deep level. It has an emotional pull. It connects with the heart and soul of your readers.

When someone reads your story, they find out your view of the world and human nature because of the plot (what happens) and characters (who does it) in your story.

An author shows us his view on life through the experiences of his characters in a particular set of circumstances. This is the theme for his story.

What is your answer when someone asks you, “What is your story about?”

Chances are you will relate the short pitch for the story, then you’ll probably mention what the main character learns from the events in your book.

Charlotte’s Web
Can a mere spider save a pig from death?
Lesson learned: Even the smallest creature can save someone.

My Cousin Vinny
Can two boys be convicted of murdering a clerk when all they did was forget to pay for a can of tuna?
Lesson learned: Even the least experienced lawyer can save cousin and his friend from a murder conviction when he accepts the help of a friend.

Twelve Angry Men
Can one juror change the mind of eleven other jurors when he has reasonable doubt that an 18 year old committed murder?
Lesson learned: Take your responsibility to protect life seriously and believe you can make a difference.

Ponder the deeper meaning of your story, what lesson, message about human nature or the human condition does the plot and actions of the characters in your story do that gets an emotional reaction from the reader.

Please leave a comment. Share your favorite movie or book with your question about the story and what you learned from it. Thank you for reading my blog. I hope it helps you.


  1. Evan Porter: “How to Write a Theme Statement?” https://wordsbyevanporter.com/theme-statement/
  2. Jerry Jenkins. “How to Develop the Theme of Your Story:” https://jerryjenkins.com/story-themes/
  3. Joan Y. Edwards. “Paul Peditto, Award-Winning Screenwriter and Playwright Shares Ways to Improve Writing:” https://joanyedwards.com/2021/01/23/paul-peditto-award-winning-screenwriter-and-playwright-shares-ways-to-improve-writing/
  4. Joan Y. Edwards. “What? I Need a Plot?” https://joanyedwards.com/2013/09/13/what-i-need-a-plot/
  5. Joan Y. Edwards. “What Is a Pitch?” https://joanyedwards.com/what-is-a-pitch/
  6. Reedsy.com. “What is the theme of a Book:” https://blog.reedsy.com/what-is-the-theme-of-a-book/