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Understanding the Plot Line

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Understanding the Plot Line

Plot Line

Great stories have a common structure called the "plot line." The following activity will help you understand why it takes the form that it does.

Your Turn Take out a piece of paper and write "Great Experiences" at the top. Beneath that title, draw a graph as follows:

  1. Draw a vertical y-axis down the left side of the page.
  2. Label the y-axis "Excitement," with "Awesome!" at the top of the line and "Blah . . ." at the bottom.
  3. Draw a horizontal x-axis along the bottom and label it "Beginning . . . Middle . . . Ending."
  4. Think of a great experience you had. Use a colored marker to graph your level of excitement from "Blah" to "Awesome" during the beginning, middle, and ending of the experience.
  5. Pick another great experience and use a different colored marker to graph your excitement with it.
  6. Repeat the process for a third great experience.

Note how your great experiences rise in excitement to a climactic point and drop off afterward, just like the plot line.

Next, graph a lousy experience. Note how it does not follow the plot line.

The plot line exists because writers want readers to have a great experience when reading.

From 417 in Write for College

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