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Elements of Plot
in Narrative Texts
What elements make up the plot?
What patterns do narrative texts follow?
Plot: The sequence of events in a story--
beginning, middle and end.
Often Represented by the Plot Diagram:
Exposition: Background information at the beginning of the story; the
setting and characters are established.
Conflict: The protagonist meets the antagonist, and their struggle becomes
Rising action: A series of events and complications build on characterization
and conflict, and foreshadowing, suspense, irony, and literary devices get involved.
Climax: The solution to the conflict is decided. This is the turning point--and
often most emotional part--of the story. The event may be either an action or
mental decision that the protagonist makes.
Falling action: The events resulting from the climax.
Resolution: Minor conflicts are wrapped up and there is an indication of
closure or continuance of life for the characters.
The Starting Situation:
Setting and Characters
Who? Characters Introduced:
Protagonist Character trying to solve the main conflict(s)
Antagonist Character creating conflict or an obstacle for
What? Opening/past situation is explained
Where? When? Setting is exposed: location, culture,
era, time, social/economic/political issues
How? Mood is established: feelings/emotions of speaker
Conflict: The problem in the story that
the protagonist faces.
2 categories and 4 kinds of conflict All
stories have one; most have several!
Man vs. Man: The main character is in conflict with another character,
human or not human.
Man vs. Nature: The main character is in conflict with the forces of
nature, which serve as the antagonist.
Man vs. Society: The main character is in conflict with a larger man-made
source or group: society, culture, religion, peers, school, etc.
Man vs. Self: The main character experiences some kind of inner conflict
like a making a difficult decision or dealing with a personal problem.
Theme: The author’s message about
life, human nature, etc.
Contains a TOPIC and a MESSAGE about that topic.
1.True love is blind.
2.Prejudice is learned, not naturally
3.Death comes early to those who
waste their lives
Applies to the literature, but is general enough to apply to other
Techniques of Plot
A few techniques that authors often use:
Foreshadowing: hints or clues that suggest what will happen
later in the story.
Suspense: Suspense makes the reader ask, "What will happen
next?" It makes the reader or audience uncertain or tense about
the outcome of events.
Irony: Generally, irony defies the reader’s expectations.
Verbal Irony: sarcasm; saying the opposite of what is literally meant
Situational Irony: the situation is the opposite of what is expected,
likely, or logical; a “twist” in the story
Dramatic Irony: the audience knows something
that the characters do not know