Plot is the foundation of a story around which the characters and settings are built. It is the series of events that occur during the course of a story. These events relate to each other in a pattern or a sequence, which forms the main arc of the literary work.
The structure of a novel depends on the organization of the events in the plot of the story. A story cannot exist without a plot. A plot includes every event that occurs throughout a text. Each event in the plot causes the next event to happen. The plot of a story should be developed in such a way that it maintains a momentum, captures the interest of the readers and keeps them guessing the next points.
The most common plot structure is that of a pyramid, consisting of five main elements:
Exposition– It is the beginning of the story where characters, settings and the main conflict is introduced.
Rising action– It is the series of events that build up to the conflict. Main conflict stirs up the trouble for the protagonist. The denial or dealing with the conflict leads the protagonist further away from their desired object. The events begin to get complicated. Tension is built up. Crisis is encountered.
Climax- It is the main point of the plot, the turning point of the story. It is considered as the darkest moment in the story or the greatest challenge faced by a protagonist. It is the moment of highest interest and emotion.
Falling action- It is the winding up of the story. The results of actions of the main characters are brought forward. Events and complications begin to resolve.
Resolution- It is the end of a story, a happy or a tragic ending. Conflicts are resolved and loose ends are tied.
The main purpose of a plot is to organize information and events in a logical manner by motivating the characters to affect the story. The series of events and conflicts that constitutes a plot leads to an internal change in the character. A good plot is one that has well-developed characters who engage in several conflicts. This makes the story emotionally engaging for the readers.
Plot is used to develop themes and by identifying and understanding the plot, the reader is able to understand the message being conveyed by the author through the story. There are ‘event driven plots’ and ‘character driven plots’, both equally captivating if the series of events are handled carefully. There are mostly several subplots running alongside the main plotline, to make the story more complex and interesting. Eventually, the purpose of the plot is to reveal the entire story and give the reader a sense of closure that he has finished the story and reached a conclusion.
I hope this helps you to write a story that maintains the reader’s interest long after they have kept the book down.