What is Plot?

photo of four red, old-fashioned phone booth leaning against each other like fallen dominos

Source: Kingston-upon-Thames Phone Boxes, Beechwood photography, Flickr

When your friend sees you reading a popular book, she might ask you what it’s about. When you tell her about the story you’re reading, you’re explaining the plot. Plot is the action of the story. Like the telephone booths in the photo, plot is tied to cause and effect; one event triggers the next event until an entire sequence of events occurs. In this lesson, you’ll learn more about this and how plots are structured.

When you were younger, you read stories with linear or conventional plots–stories that start with “once upon a time” and end with “happily ever after,” so you’re undoubtedly familiar with this structure by now. You might even have seen or worked with Freytag’s Pyramid, a visual representation that illustrates the development of the plot (shown below) in five parts. In this lesson, you’ll learn more about how plot is developed.

diagram of Freytag’s Pyramid

Source: Freytags_Pyramid, Wikimedia