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The 5 Stages of Plot (CWI)

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David Maxwell

on 30 August 2016

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Transcript of The 5 Stages of Plot (CWI)

The Function of the Plot
How 5 Work As 1
"The exposition…here we go…the exposition…what a show!"
The most exciting part of the story; the turning point, the moment when the outcome of the conflict is determined...
The Rising Action
The Rising Action occurs when a series of events build up to the conflict. These events are known as complications. The main characters are established by the time the rising action of a plot occurs and at the same time, events begin to get complicated. These complications are designed to make the conflict more interesting. A certain number of these are usually tackled before the main problem is solved. This is the uphill struggle an dbulk of the plot in the story. It is during this part of a story that excitement, tension or crisis is encountered.
But this quote took us into our rising action.

We are reminded that Alexis was drunk as his buzz is wearing off. He rides through town thinking about what he could care less to think about.

He's five square blocks away as we get a description of his destination.

He grows impatient and runs four red lights. His first complications and road blocks to stop/slow him down. They didn't work.
The Action of "Depth Charge"
Most of us struggled with the beginning of this story. Mostly because it did not give us much information. The exposition provided us with the bare minimum and took us still wondering as we entered the Rising Action.

We knew what the author wanted us to know...
Alexis and Gavin were in a bar in Baltimore on Alexis' 21st birthday. Alexis asked Gavin, "What was the stupidest thing you've ever done?" Gavin replies, "I robbed a store with some friends when I was younger for $28." Alexis says, "I'm thinking about doing something waaaaay worse." Gavin ask, "Like what?" Alexis replies with a flaming drink in his hand, "i want to do something that takes skill. Skill proves sh*t."

And we were all left waiting for the punchline...

What we did know was; two men, bar, sick stunt of some kind that required steps and skill, and we'll never forget that...
"The car bit the railroad in two..." (42)
We then realize what Alexis' skillful stunt actually is! He chooses to run his car off of the bridge and into the water. But at this point we are thinking, "Is he committing suicide?" Then we remember "the 10 steps" he kept reciting. 10 being "up and out."

He starts to say them yto himself... "One, lock the door. Two, brace yourself. Three, etc."

Ok, lets see how this ends up...

What is Plot?
The PLOT is the literary element that describes the structure of a story. It is said to be
the foundation of a story
which the characters and settings are built around. It is understood to be a series of

related events
in a story; each connected to the next. The sequence of events in a plot are designed
to arouse the reader's curiosity and pull the reader forward through the story.
"The structure of a novel depends on the
organization of events
in the plot of the story."


When you read a story, short or long, you expect and
to be taken somewhere. To leave your current surroundings and live between the lines.
This is
to do when the plot is
to follow.
According to most sources, there are

main elements in a plot.
or introduction.
These 5 elements work together to win your
, and
as you read. And we all know what happens when those three things are captured and explored...
Time goes by quickly...
Blood, sweat, and tears (aka emotions) are felt and shed...
You get the idea...
Now, lets look at each of these elements closely.
Also known as
basic situation
, this is the opening of the story, when the setting, characters, and conflicts are introduced.

Plots can be told in...
Chronological Order
In media res
(in the middle of things, skipping the exposition)

I will use examples to explain from a Chronological point of view.
In it's purest form, it's simply a way of giving the reader information in the simplest, flattest way possible so the author can clearly explain everything he or she thinks you need to know.
The key at being a successful writer is to be a master of inserting exposition without killing the story in the process. The standard technique for making exposition less tiresome is to dribble it out in bits as the plot goes on, integrating it with the narrative such that the reader picks up what they need to know when they need to know it. There are three ways to do this; explanatory dialogue, incidental exposition, exposition in the middle of the narrative.
(I can go deeper into these, but you'll get a presentation on Exposition during week four.)
Once you get these three aspects; setting, character, conflict, the story usually takes off from there. You can get these early in the story, therefore ending the exposition early, or you might not get them until deep into the story (leaving you questioning whether you should keep reading or not) and then the action usually flows pretty quickly afterward. For instance...
Are you familiar with the tear jerker
? If I were to ask you to give me the setting, characters, and conflict of this story, you might respond with one of the following.

A long time ago in a land ruled by a King and Queen a young girl named Cinderella lost her father and must live with her miserable Step Mother and sisters.
A long time ago in a land ruled by a Kind and Queen a young girl named Cinderella lives with her miserable Step Mother and sisters. The family has been invited to the royal ball. Cinderella is left behind without a dress to wear after her sisters ruin it beyond repair.
The correct exposition is on the right. Here we see the correct conflict. yes her father dies, but this puts her in her predicament. Which, she does nothing about it. Cinderella doesn't mind cleaning and being bossed around. She actually enjoys her room in the attic because she is able to escape her crazy mom and sisters and be alone singing with and to the birds, a deer, mice, a raccoon, etc.

It is not until she is not allowed to go to the ball that she is devastated runs into the flower garden and cries. This is the first event of the next element (The Rising Action) which takes us towards the summit of the story. If Cinderella shrugged her shoulders and said, "Oh well. I guess I won't go to the ball tonight. I'll just clean, sing with my friends, and fall asleep next to the fireplace again," we would still be in the exposition and waiting for a conflict to appear.
"The rule that trumps all: no matter what, don’t overdo it... So when in doubt, it’s better to leave the reader a little confused than to risk overloading them with too much explanation or information."
Again, just wait until week four.)
"Luck is for..." (42)
This is where the plot starts to grab our attention. The Rising action is intended for this. The "conflict gets more interesting" and we are being pulled forward through the rest of the story. Cinderella is headed to the ball and Alexis is bracing himself for his jump.
Although we are left with only two pages to read, it is evident that Bernardini has saved the best for last. He quickly drives us through the events of the Rising Action, in suspense, waiting to see what will happen next.
The Final Events
We are taken through this change in our character. One great reason for the Rising Action. The character must face difficult situations in order to grow....
He can't remember his steps, he's "hammering the windows," He's wondering about time, he wants to start again, he's tugged against his seat belt.

All of these actions, and more, happen in just a few paragraphs and very little dialogue. The mind of Alexis has now become our own and we are moving through the events with him at a rapid speed. I felt that this worked very well and the idea of death will grasp an emotion from you no matter how well you know the character.
And just when you think he's done for...

He made out something in the windshield that scared him to "life."
We see Alexis at the light of the tunnel, screaming through his deep breath, and happy to be alive.

The climax usually comes near the end of a short story and contains the most tension of all the complications that occur before it. If the character has not solved their over all issue, then you have not reached the conflict yet.

The next two events follow quickly after...
The Falling Action
When the
logical results
of the climax is shown.
In this case, when Alexis is being surrounded with towels. Very last paragraph of the story.
The Resolution
The very end of the story, when the loose ends of the plot are tied up.
Alexis thought of his friend son the way to the hospital and realized he valued them and his life.
Functions of a Plot

A plot is one of the most important parts of a story and has many different purposes.

The plot focuses attention on the important characters and their roles in the story.

It motivates the characters to affect the story and connects the events in an orderly manner.

It creates a desire for the reader to go on reading by absorbing them in the middle of the story, wanting to know what happens next.

The plot leads to the climax, but by gradually releases the story in order to maintain the reader’s interest.

During the plot of a book, a reader gets emotional and connects with the book, not allowing himself to put the book down. Eventually, the plot reveals the entire story and gives the reader a sense of completion that he has finished the story and reached a conclusion.

The plot is what forms a memory in the readers’ mind, allowing them to think about the book and even making them want to read it again. By identifying and understanding the plot, the reader is able to understand the message being conveyed by the author and the explicit or implicit moral of the story.
And there you have...
And for fun... watch these... they explain it in a fun way. Enjoy!!!
This ones tells a bit more than plot...
This one is spot on...
Works Cited
Bernardini; Depth Charge
Literary Devices, Definition and Examples of Literary Terms (http://literarydevices.net/plot/)
Read/Write/Think Homepage (http://www.readwritethink.org)
Weisser; The Metanautics Department (http://metanautics.net/2013/07/09/the-importance-of-exposition-in-fantasy/)
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