The Plotter’s Bible, in a Nutshell—by Ann Kitching
Writing a short story or a poem follows a similar structure to writing a longer work. A novel is basically one good story chapter that propels the next good story chapter that compels the next. The elements of a great story include an introduction, rising action, climax, falling action, and a resolution. Let’s start there, recognizing some alternate terminology:
- Introduction: Stage 1, Part 1, the Setup, Foundation, Hook, Stasis
- Rising Action: Complications, Fun and Games, Higher Stakes
- Climax: Moment Of Truth, Critical Choice
- Falling Action: Denouement, Major Setback, Reversal, Dark Moment
- Resolution: Ultimate Battle Scene, Final Showdown, Conclusions
These five elements repeat throughout a paragraph, scene, chapter, novel, and so on.What Does Each Part Do?
INTRODUCTION: Include the setting, goals and stakes (who what when where why)
Show the hero in her normal world; she wants/yearns for something but can’t get it easily.
RISING ACTION: Uncertain steps; seeking
Something shakes up the hero’s routine and forces her to make a decision. The antagonist is in control, and the hero reacts to events without knowing why things are going badly.
CLIMAX: Face the antagonist; use short, sharp sentences
All the antagonistic forces gang up on the protagonist. She loses by refusing to make the changes required, or by lacking ability. The upside is the hero learns the antagonist’s plan.
FALLING ACTION: Action after action after action
The hero digs in and begins fighting back. She takes a more active role in overcoming her adversaries. She counters her antagonist.
RESOLUTION: Twist, slow down, resolve
Hero and Antagonist fight one-on-one; the hero’s beaten up but her spirit’s unbroken and she comes out on top. Or, the hero loses and the antagonist wins. The ending ties off the subplots and completes outstanding character arcs.
Rotate these basic elements from one through five until your story reaches the conclusion you desire.