Definition of Plot
Plot is a literary term used to describe the events that make up a story, or the main part of a story. These events relate to each other in a pattern or a sequence. The structure of a novel depends on the organization of events in the plot of the story.
Plot is known as the foundation of a novel or story, around which the characters and settings are built. It is meant to organize information and events in a logical manner. When writing the plot of a piece of literature, the author has to be careful that it does not dominate the other parts of the story.
Primary Elements of a Plot
There are five main elements in a plot.
- Exposition or Introduction
This is the beginning of the story, where characters and setting are established. The conflict or main problem is introduced as well.
Rising action which occurs when a series of events build up to the conflict. The main characters are established by the time the rising action of a plot occurs, and at the same time, events begin to get complicated. It is during this part of a story that excitement, tension, or crisis is encountered.
In the climax, or the main point of the plot, there is a turning point of the story. This is meant to be the moment of highest interest and emotion, leaving the reader wondering what is going to happen next.
Falling action, or the winding up of the story, occurs when events and complications begin to resolve. The result of the actions of the main characters are put forward.
Resolution, or the conclusion, is the end of a story, which may occur with either a happy or a tragic ending.
Examples of Plot in Literature
Example #1: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (By J. K. Rowling)
Among the examples of plot in modern literature, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is probably the most familiar to both readers and moviegoers. The plot of the story begins when Harry learns that Professor Snape is after the Sorcerer’s Stone. The Professor lets loose a troll, who nearly kills Harry and his friends. In addition, Harry finds out that Hagrid let out the secret of the giant dog to a stranger in return for a dragon, which means that Snape can now reach the Sorcerer’s Stone.
Example #2: Pride and Prejudice (By Jane Austen)
A very good plot example in romantic fiction appears in the book Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. The plot of the story begins when Lizzie’s sister, Jane, falls in love with Darcy’s friend named Mr. Bingley. Lizzie develops and interest in Mr. Wickham, who accuses Darcy of destroying him financially.
When Lizzie goes to meet her friend, she runs into Mr. Darcy, who proposes, and Lizzie rejects. She then writes him a letter telling him why she dislikes him. He writes back, clearing up all misunderstandings and accusations. Jane runs away with Mr. Wickham, and Lizzie realizes that Mr. Darcy is not as bad a man as she had thought him to be.
Function of Plot
A plot is one of the most important parts of a story, and has many different purposes. Firstly, the plot focuses attention on the important characters and their roles in the story. It motivates the characters to affect the story, and connects the events in an orderly manner. The plot creates a desire for the reader to go on reading by absorbing them in the middle of the story, ensuring they want to know what happens next.
The plot leads to the climax, but by gradually releasing the story in order to maintain readers’ interest. During the plot of a book, a reader gets emotionally involved, connecting with the book, not allowing himself to put the book down. Eventually, the plot reveals the entire story, giving the reader a sense of completion that he has finished the story and reached a conclusion.
The plot is what forms a memory in readers’ minds, allowing them to think about the book and even making them want to read it again. By identifying and understanding the plot, the reader is able to understand the message being conveyed by the author, and the explicit or implicit moral of the story.