Crafting a Compelling Story Plot

Crafting a story plot

Crafting a Compelling Story Plot

This article covers the art of crafting compelling story plots that captivate audiences and leave a lasting impact. The sections include the definition of a story plot, elements of a plot, characteristics of a plot, and how to tell if your plot is good.

Elements of a Story Plot

Crafting a Story Plot

Every writer – aspiring, budding, and established – wishes to have the audience engaged and yearning for more. A story plot helps achieve this aim. So grab your pens and notebooks because we’re about to embark on an exciting journey!


What is a story made up of?

Every story is made up of both events and characters. The event may be everyday events, paranormal, fantasy, etc. What matters is to remember that when everything happens as it always does, it is a routine – the pattern remains unbroken. Stories like this are not very engaging. However, when the pattern is interrupted, it elicits anticipation and other emotions in the audience which keeps them in the loop.


What is a plot?

A plot is a series of causes and effects that shape the story as a whole. The plot is the backbone of any story. It weaves together characters, conflicts, and resolutions in a coherent and engaging manner. These elements act as the building blocks of any engaging narrative.

A plot is often centered on one moment – a strange occurrence, a turning point, a devastating experience, etc. This moment is crucial as it raises a dramatic question. The events that make up the story are then weaved to answer the question throughout the course of the story.


Elements of a story plot

The fundamental elements that make up a story plot act as the building blocks of the narrative. These include – exposition, inciting incident, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution.

  1. Exposition: This sets the stage by introducing the story’s setting, characters, and relationships. It provides essential background information for the readers to understand the context of the narrative.
  2. Inciting incident: This event disrupts the protagonist’s ordinary world, throwing them into the main plotline. It creates a sense of curiosity and sets the story in motion. This event must be dramatic enough to carry the story and retain the audience’s attention.
  3. Rising action: As the story progresses, we enter the rising action. This is where the conflicts, obstacles, and challenges are introduced. The tension builds, and the readers become more invested in the narrative. This section deepens the character and creates a sense of anticipation.
  4. Climax: This is the turning point of the story. It’s the most intense and pivotal moment, where the central conflict reaches its peak. This is often the most emotionally charged scene. The climax is also known as the pinnacle. It carries the highest tension in the story after which the events begin to unwind to a significant resolution or revelation.
  5. Falling action: After the climax, we enter the falling action. The tension eases, and the story starts to wind down. The writer ties up loose ends and the consequences of the characters’ actions become evident.
  6. Resolution: The resolution, also known as the denouement brings the story to a satisfying conclusion, providing closure to the narrative. It may include character growth, lessons learned, a decision for the future, or a final twist.


What makes a good plot?

A good plot is driven by well-developed and engaging characters, relatable conflicts, and emotional resonance. (See our video on how to write a good short story  or read the article – How to Write a Good Short Story). It keeps the readers invested and takes them on an emotional roller coaster.

A well-crafted plot maintains a balance between exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. It keeps the readers hooked from beginning to end, with each element seamlessly flowing into the next. Conflict and Tension are compelling.


Characteristics of a Good Plot

A good plot is characterized by –

  • Engaging characters – An engaging character must have some strengths and weaknesses that the audience can relate to. When the audience relates with the character, they become invested in the story, empathizing with their struggles and rooting for their success, and anticipating their actions.


  • Conflict and tension – A compelling plot thrives on conflict. A storyteller must pose obstacles to challenge the characters building on their strengths and weaknesses. The conflict creates tension and anticipation allowing the audience to imagine the characters’ next move.


  • Emotional resonance – A good plot engages the audience emotionally. The characters should be developed in a manner that elicits an emotional connection with the audience and triggers their creative and imaginative mind.


  • Clear and coherent narrative arc and structure – A clear narrative arc has a beginning, middle, and end. It maintains a balance between the elements of the plot as discussed above.


Example of a good plot

To Kill a Mockingbird Novel by Lee”  by Harper Lee.


How can I tell if my plot is good or bad?

Here are some practical ways to assess your plot to know if it is good enough for a compelling storyline.

1. Try to summarize the plot and see how it feels.

Essentially, tell your story in one to three sentences. If you have a good plot, it will make a story that includes the protagonist, the conflict, and the resolution. M. Foster sums it up this way –

“The king died and then the queen died is a story. The king died, and then the queen died of grief, is a plot.” —E. M. Forster

The first does not have the cause of death, the later does. Without the plot pointing out that the queen’s death was due to grief, it is incomplete as there are many possible things that may cause her death. Someone may decide the queen was assassinated, and another that she died peacefully in her sleep. With each cause of death comes a different angle to the conflict and overall storyline.


2. Identify the event disruption that sets the story in motion.

If you struggle to identify the main event twist, then you should rethink the plot. Inability to pick out the core shift that drives the story may be because –

– the story is made of mostly routine events


– there are many twists and they don’t fit neatly to direct the plot.

Follow the main character and adjust the events around him.



Written by Chinyere Nwosu



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