On Writing Well: On NOT Losing the Plot

Much of the time, when writing prose, we get so carried away by character development and writing style that we forget all about the central structure of our work – the plot. Plot (or story, it really is the same thing) plays a critical role within creative prose. In fact as a judge of the recent creative writing contest, I had to unwillingly set aside very well written pieces just because they had no discernible plot. Sticking to a story – however complex or simple, is critical to your writing.

Happily, the plot is the easiest of all the creative writing elements. It consists of:

  • Exposition: This is where the narrative universe is set up and made accessible. It is common to start with a gripping hook, or offer the back-story, and present the action and inner life of the main character.
  • Rising Action: This is where the drama begins to unfold. It mainly describes a conflict or complication, where the main character meets an obstacle, either internal or external where he or she is unable to get what they desire.
  • Climax: This is often the middle of the piece where the drama comes to a head – usually this consists of a confrontation between the main character and the obstacle, where it becomes obvious that the status quo, that we became aware of in the exposition, is no longer possible.
  • Falling action: This is where the dramatic narrative eases, where tensions begin to loosen, and the new, post-climatic world becomes available to the reader.
  • Resolution: This is where the writer knits up all loose threads into a beautiful pattern, offering the reader a sense of both closure and satisfaction.

The next time you sit down for some creative writing, consider these elements and how they manifest themselves in your work.

3 thoughts on “On Writing Well: On NOT Losing the Plot

  1. Thank you for this. I currently am finishing 20 chapters for a book of stories and was able to go over the story in my mind by using this guide. It really works!

  2. Indeed! I recently read a book that I was enjoying most of the way through. However, in the final chapter, it seemed that the author had lost her way, or else could not figure out how to wrap up the loose ends, and the story just ended unresolved, leaving the reader hanging.
    It was very disappointing, and I probably will not buy any more of her books.

  3. Hyphenbird, I’m very pleased that the small guide was helpful and congrats on getting so far with your book! DzyMsLizzy: Isn’t it so disappointing when that happens?

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