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What is Plot Structure. Freytag Pyramid MICE. Copy this Freytag Pyramid. Plot Structure. What is plot? What is plot structure? Plot - the main story arc of a literary work Elements of the Story Arc: Exposition - introduction of the main characters and setting; in shorter forms

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What is plot structure l.jpg

What is Plot Structure

Freytag Pyramid


Plot structure l.jpg
Plot Structure

  • What is plot? What is plot structure?

  • Plot - the main story arc of a literary work

  • Elements of the Story Arc:

    • Exposition - introduction of the main characters and setting; in shorter forms

    • Rising Action - one (or more) characters in crisis

    • Climax - point of highest emotion; turning point

    • Falling Action - resolution of character’s crisis

    • Resolution

  • Plot Structure - one of a finite number of plans in which to tell a story

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Milieu, Idea, Character, Event


  • All stories contain four elements that determine structure: Milieu, Idea, Character, and Event. While each is present in the story, one generally dominates the others.

  • Which one dominates? The one that the author cares about most. This is why we often consider the process of discovering the structure of a story a process of self-discovery: What is your story about? Who is the central or viewpoint character? Where is your story set? What is the purpose of your story? Once you have considered each of those questions, then you can ask, Which aspect of the story matters most to you? That is the aspect that will give you your story's structure.

  • Let's take each element in turn and look at the structure that would be required if that is the dominant element in the story.

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  • Why the M.I.C.E. QUOTIENT?

  • Plot Structure - How many basic plots are there?

  • Aristotle- 2 basic plots: Tragedies (Bad things happen to good people) and Comedies (Good things happen to good people).

  • Shakespeare- 7 basic plots: the Love story, the Revenge Story, Murder Mystery, the History, the Tall Tale, Coming of Age, and Hail & Farewell.

  • Joseph Campbell - 1 basic plot: The Journey of the Hero.

  • Robert Heinlein - 3 basic plots: Boy Meets Girl; Boy Looses Girl; Boy Makes Girl.

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What does it mean?


  • Milieu - The Milieu is the world--the planet, the society, the weather, the family--all the elements that went into creating that special world.

  • Idea - Idea stories are about the process of finding information.

  • Character - The Character story is about the transformation of a character’s role in the communities that matter most to him or her.

  • Event - Event stories focus on events which rip the fabric of the universe or disrupt the natural order and cause the world to be in a state of flux.

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  • The Milieu StoryThe whole point of the story is to discover this strange, new world.

  • Arrival - A Stranger from the outside arrives (by purpose or accident); he is unwelcomed and imprisoned, but gradually proves his worthiness.

  • Initiation - Stranger is formally welcomed into the society; taught the culture & language; shown sharp contrast between stranger’s world and present one which challenges the stranger’s own belief system.

  • Departure - Stranger rejects or is torn away from society, & returns home with greater self awareness.

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  • The Idea StoryThe whole point of the story is the process of discovering information by those who do not know.

  • A Question - The idea story begins with a question, and a scientist, a detective, or some other inquisitive character seeks to find an answer.

  • Quest for Knowledge - Central character(s) gathers information from a variety of sources; he may even employ the scientific method or a form of deduction to reduce the number of variables, but attempts to find an answer are complicated by many failures.

  • The Answer - Gradually, repented failure leads to vindication, and the question is answered.

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  • The Character StoryThe whole point is about the transformation of a character’s role in his community.

  • Crisis - Central character becomes so unhappy, impatient, or angry in his present role that he begins the process of change (either consciously or unconsciously).

  • Conflict - Others resist the central character’s change, and attempt to change him back.

  • Climax - Character either settles into a new role (happily or not) or gives up the struggle and remains in the old role (happily or not).

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  • The Event StoryThe whole point of the story is about the restoration of the proper order of the universe.

  • Departure - Heroic figure hears the call to adventure (and sometimes refuses call): he is called to restore order to the universe; he receives aid from a wizard, an elder, or supernatural force (usually in form of a magical weapon), and undergoes first trial by fire.

  • Initiation - Hero undergoes more trials; he falls for a goddess and is tempted by a temptress; he meets his dark father and is wounded; he finds great riches.

  • Return - Hero restores order by defeating evil king & returns home, older & wiser, to empower others

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Brainstorm some examples to refer to

  • Milieu

  • Idea

  • Character

  • Event

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Do it

  • Employing the M.I.C.E Quotient To Tell Your Story

  • Select a major theme - Aliens, First Contact, Nuclear War, Time Travel, Etc.

  • Determine the single element which will dominate - Milieu, Idea, Character, or Event

  • Introduce a memorable character - Scientist, Explorer, Warrior, Innocent, Martyr, Politician, Orphan, Adventurer, Detective, etc.

  • Create that other time or place, using special knowledge of - Science, Culture, Behavior, etc.

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Make a Freytag pyramid of your story

  • Choose your theme and briefly explain it

  • Choose you M.I.C.E focus

  • Draw a freytag pyramid mapping your story

  • Present your idea to the class