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Plot, the Rise and the Fall

The plot is not just a device we use to move a story forward. A plot must have a purpose and a meaning to both the character and the reader. The plot is driven by the character and the character is driven by the plot. One cannot function without the other. A good plot will make for good characters.  

A plot is known to have what is called rise and fall moments.   

1) The Rise is where something good happens in the story. People fall in love, the dragon is defeated, the hero comes home with the head of Medusa and saves the day. The rise is always good and the fall must always be bad.  

2) The Fall is when the hero gets captured, the beloved sidekick dies, or there is some tragedy. The plot is always moved on by some event or action taken by the protagonist. The fall is simply the bad, the misfortune, and the disasters. 

A plot is known to have six basic shapes or curves.  

1) The rags to riches story, where we have a fall and then a rise. We can think of the Divine Comedy as we go from the depths of hell to heaven.  

2) The riches to rags story. Here we have the rise and then fall. Madame Bovary is a great example. She has many affairs and then falls into debt and suicide.  

3) The Icarus shape, where we have a rise and a fall. Romeo and Juliet are a great example here, falling in love and then ending in death.  

4) The Oedipus where we have a fall, then a rise, then a fall again. Frankenstein is a great example. The insanity of the doctor, the success of the creation, and the death in the end.  

5) The classic Cinderella story. Here we have a rise, and the fall and a rise again. Just like her story  

6) The ‘man in a hole’ shape is a simple fall and rise plot. Here we take Pride and Prejudice as an example. The meeting between Lizzie and Darcy was a disaster and then they fall in love and end up happy together. 

A plot must take us from one state to another. There must be a dramatic change in our state or character in the end. The plot must have a beginning, where we see our character for the first time and we are introduced to their world. Plot drives a character so we then have an insightful moment, where an action must be made or a quest must be undertaken.  

In a natural story curve, we then have the start then a rise in action, and that builds to the largest part of the book usually near the end known as the climax. Here is the showdown, the dragon must be fought and the princess must be saved from the villain. Then there is a resolution where there is peace and we are then in a different state as when we started.  

Our character has changed for the better or worse, and our plot became a character by itself. 

Written by Readers’ Favorite Reviewer Anelynde Smit