Plot Structure

What is PLOT?

We are talking about what happens in a story.

The story is built of significant events in the narrative.

Plot is what characters do, say or think that move the story forward. Writers must ask themselves: What – When – Where – Why – and what is at stake?

Plots can be gleaned from one’s everyday life…..what is happening around you.

Remember, every word in a story shouldmove the story on.’

One of my favourite phrases regarding writing fiction is ‘Added value’, don’t include it or, better still, take it out if it does not add value to the story.

The plot used in fiction can be differentiated into four types:


A linear plot is one in which the events take place in a line. This creates a clear and continued reading experience, as they are led from one event to the next while building interest and responding to increasing tensions. (Pride and Prejudice. The story follows a chronological structure.)


An episodic storyline tells a series of separate, but possibly interconnected events.

(A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The story follows a wide cast of characters, often individually.)


Parallel storylines are where the writer incorporates two or more sperate stories. They are usually linked by a common character, event or theme. (Romeo and Juliet is a classic example of a parallel plot. The events in Romeo and Juliet’s lives are paralleled by the events in the lives of the Montagues and Capulets. Readers learn about the characters, their relationships and the plot of the story by comparing and contrasting the two plots.


A flashback plot is one where an interjected scene takes the narrative back in time from the current point in the story. (Wuthering Heights: When the reader meets the characters at the start of the novel, Catherine is already a ghost.)

The most common of these employed in short stories is the linear plot.


  1. Phil

    Thanks for describing all this info about plots. Interesting.

    • Lynne

      More to come on Plot Structure in the next few days


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