Narrative Essay Plot


 beginning, a period of characters being disconnected and then the end where the old connections return or new connections begin.



two events appear near each other in a work that have a similarity or similarities; authors  place these events near each other to underscore something the author feels is important.

Rule of three


human psychology tends to only accept evidence if it shows a pattern. To show a pattern, there must be at least three instances or examples. People tend to look at events as One time


 just an occurrence Two times


 perhaps the second piece of evidence is only a coincidence Three times


 now we have a pattern

The Essay



inform your audience (people who will read your paper) about a position you are taking concerning plot.



locate, organize, and synthesize information concerning plot in a work of literature to support your thesis



the idea that you are defending in your paper, your thoughts on a specific work by an author. You must prove this with pieces of textual evidence taken from the work in question. Line X proves my thesis because it states, "YYYYY."


Questions to consider when planning an essay on plot:


What is the dramatic structure? Break the plot into either traditional structure (noting places where the  plot deviates from traditional structure) or as one would in feminist plot analysis. 2.

What are the expectations built up by the author? Are they fulfilled? How are they fulfilled? 3.

Does the plot grow out of the characters or does it depend on chance or coincidence? What specific examples can you give that show either of these? 4.


 the movement of action versus suspense. Does the author set up suspenseful scenes or end scenes in such a way that we are left in suspense? If so, what do you think is his or her purpose for doing this? How does the author use suspense in the work 


what is its purpose? 5.

Are there episodes that at first seem to be irrelevant? What are they? How do they prove to be relevant later? 6.

Is the story told chronologically? Why or why not? 7.

Does the author use flashback? Foreshadowing? Irony? Give examples for each if it is present in the  plot. 8.

Are there suggestive juxtapositions of happenings? 9.

Are certain situations repeated? 10.

Is the story about a change in a situation or a change in personality


or a change in our understanding of a situation or personality? 11.

Who are the protagonist and antagonist, and how do their characteristics put them in conflict? How would you describe the conflict? 12.

How does the action develop from the conflict? 13.

If the conflict stems from contrasting ideas or values, what are these, and how are they brought out? 14.

What problems does the major character (or do the major characters) face? How does the character (characters) deal with these problems? 15.

How do the major characters achieve (or not achieve) their major goal(s)? What obstacles do they overcome? What obstacles overcome them or alter them? If the obstacles were put in place by another

character, what was this character’s motivation for this blocking?


At the end, are the characters successful or unsuccessful, happy or unhappy, satisfied or dissatisfied, changed or unchanged, enlightened or ignorant? How has the resolution of the major conflict produced these results?

Narrative arcs and the prototypical “Plot Diagram” are essential for building literary comprehension and appreciation. Plot diagrams allow students to pick out major themes in the text, trace changes to major characters over the course of the narrative, and hone their analytic skills. Lessons emphasizing these skills meet many Common Core Standards for English Language Arts (CCSS.ELA-Literacy). The concepts not only give students a fuller understanding of classroom texts, but also their favorite books and movies.

  • Falling Action
  • Resolution


The exposition is the introduction to a story, including the primary characters' names, setting, mood, and time.


The conflict is the primary problem that drives the plot of the story, often a main goal for the protagonist to achieve or overcome.

Rising Action

The rising action of the story is all of the events that lead to the eventual climax, including character development and events that create suspense.


The climax is the most exciting point of the story, and is a turning point for the plot or goals of the main character.

Falling Action

The falling action is everything that happens as a result of the climax, including wrapping-up of plot points, questions being answered, and character development.


The resolution is not always happy, but it does complete the story. It can leave a reader with questions, answers, frustration, or satisfaction.

By plotting simple narrative arcs in three-cell storyboards, or more complicated stories in six-cell boards, teachers can easily assess students’ understanding of important story components. Combined illustrations and text can enliven difficult concepts like “rising action” and “climax”.

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Plot Diagram Template

Making storyboards that explain a plot bring students' understanding to life! It's an engaging and fun way for students to interact with the texts they read in class. The details and characters featured in students’ storyboards allow instructors to immediately determine whether students comprehend the scope of the objectives. For narrative arcs for younger grades or other plot diagram templates, make sure to check out "Four Innovative Ways to Teach Parts of a Story".

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Classroom Exercises and Book Reports

Some fun ways to teach this lesson using Storyboard That:

  • Have students illustrate exposition, rising action, conflict, climax, falling action, and resolution, in a six-cell storyboard.
  • As part of editing, have students diagram their own creative writing to find major plot points.
  • Put an empty storyboard on an assessment, and require students to illustrate the plot points of a class text.

Relating to the Common Core

Analyzing a literary work with a plot diagram fulfills Common Core ELA standards for many age groups. Below are only two examples of ELA standards for different levels. Please see your Common Core State Standards for grade-appropriate strands.

  • ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2: Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text

  • ELA-Literacy.RL.6.3: Describe how a particular story’s or drama’s plot unfolds in a series of episodes as well as how the characters respond or change as the plot moves toward a resolution

Example Rubrics

Examples from Literature

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Suggested Modifications

For the Students Who Need Minimal Guidance

Within special education there are varying degrees of abilities, including students who may have disabilities that have a minimal impact on their cognitive abilities. Those students for whatever reason may still be in a special education setting but won’t necessarily need significant modifications on something like a plot diagram. For the students that require minimal assistance, a blank plot diagram with very little or no information completed may be the way to go. As the creator of the storyboard, the teacher can control just what information is provided and decide how much he wants to guide his students. Use the templates above as they are, or make slight adjustments to the templates.

For the Students Who Need a Little Guidance

Some students will need a little more guidance when it comes to a plot diagram. Students who struggle with reading comprehension may have difficulty picking out the different parts of a story. Often times details of the story can be lost in translation, so to speak. That is where a plot diagram with some leading information can be helpful. Incorporating the visual aspect into the storyboard prior to asking the students to complete the plot diagram gives them “clues” as to what they are looking for when completing the diagram. The visuals act as context clues for students so they can focus their energy on the appropriate information, as seen in the Holes Plot Diagram.

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For the Students Who Need More Guidance

Storyboarding allows for variations that also work for those students who really struggle and require more explicit guidance. For the students who can still complete the plot diagram as an assignment but need simplification, you can alter the plot diagram to a more basic beginning-middle-end (BME) approach. With the BME storyboard the amount of information included can still be as little or as much as needed for the students. There are BME storyboard templates and examples already completed and ready for use on here.

If the BME is not exactly conducive to the assignment and the students require a more in-depth plot diagram with all the information, a completed plot diagram storyboard may be the better way to go. The students can then use it as a reference rather than an assignment. Options like this are great, especially when the students notice what other students have or don’t have. From afar, it will look like they received the same storyboard, but in actuality they each have one that meets their needs.

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More Examples of Plot Diagrams Lesson Plans

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