What is the Plot of a Story? - Definition & Examples

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  • 0:06 Story Plot: Defined
  • 0:45 Exposition and Rising Action
  • 1:43 Climax
  • 2:06 Falling Action and Resolution
  • 2:38 Another Example
  • 3:48 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Barbara Fehr

Barbara has taught English and history and has a master's degree in special education.

Have you ever ridden a roller coaster? You may think to yourself, what does that have to do with the plot of a story? Read this lesson to find out and test your skills with a short quiz.

Story Plot: Defined

Have you ever ridden a roller coaster? You get in your seat. You anxiously listen to the click, click, click, of the carts as you reach the top of the hill. There is a brief moment of panic at the very top before you quickly go speeding down and turn and flip until finally, the ride slows down, and you reach the end.

This is very similar to how the plot of a story works. The plot describes the events and their significance as the story unfolds. There are five different parts to the plot: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. These five different parts can also be plotted onto an image of a roller coaster.

Exposition and Rising Action

We'll start with the exposition. The roller coaster ride begins when you find your seat, get buckled, and the crew walks around to make sure everyone is safe. You're feeling pretty good at this moment, excited for the ride to start. There is a lot of unknown at this point, especially if you haven't been on this ride before. Just like the beginning of a roller coaster, the exposition is the beginning of the story. Here you're introduced to the characters, the setting, and the conflict.

Next comes the rising action. At this point, the ride has begun. You're starting to have some misgivings as you realize that you can't get off until the very end. The ride is still moving slowly at this point as you hear the click, click, click, of the cart as it moves ever closer to the top of the hill. Anxiety is building with each second. This is similar to the rising action of the story. The rising action includes the events leading to the climax. The conflict, or trigger, is starting to develop at this point of the plot.


Next, you've reached the top of the hill. This is the point where everything changes. The direction of the cart changes from up to down, and quickly! A lot is happening at once, emotions are running high, and there's a lot of noise from the other passengers. This is the climax of the story. The climax is the turning point. Nothing is the same after this point, and a lot of changes are happening in the story.

Falling Action and Resolution

After the climax, the coaster is completing its last few flips and turns, still moving quickly but close to the end. This is similar to the falling action in our story. The falling action includes the events that lead to the resolution of the conflict.

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