You've meticulously crafted an entire narrative within your imagination, eagerly anticipating the moment when you can transfer these vivid thoughts onto paper and watch your characters come to life through their interactions. However, the initial hurdle often lies in commencing your storytelling journey. While it's tempting to dive directly into the scenarios playing out in your mind, establishing a structured foundation offers a profound sense of coherence and continuity within your narrative. Consultation with a plot diagram example proves invaluable, serving as a guiding beacon as you navigate the intricate landscape of the creative writing process, enabling you to imbue your story with depth and richness.
What is a plot diagram?
Plot diagrams serve as invaluable visual aids that help illustrate the storyline's progression. Typically depicted as line graphs, they commence with the story's inception on the left and extend to the right as the narrative unfolds, culminating at the conclusion. The fundamental triangular structure, denoting the story's inception, development, and resolution, is commonly observed in these diagrams. Gustav Freytag is credited with formulating this framework, which has since become a fundamental tool for understanding and dissecting the elements of a compelling plot. Plot diagrams provide a concise overview of a story's key events, fostering a deeper comprehension of its structure and development.
Examples of plot diagrams
You can use various plot diagrams to tailor your plot for your story. It might also be beneficial to see a plot diagram example; some of them are illustrated below.
Overcoming the Monster Plot Diagram
The first plot diagram example is a straightforward one. It's a story arc following the protagonist who struggles to overcome an adversary. It can be a source of conflict coming from within, like illness, fear, or addiction. Another type of adversary would be the literal monster type of antagonist. The template below shows the typical thriller story where a peaceful and calm setting experiences a sudden murder. Its plot then rises to the hero traveling far to fight against evil, which is considered the climax. The plot diagram is completed with a conflict resolution and a happy ending.
Rags to Riches: Cinderella Plot Diagram
Almost everyone knows the Cinderella story. The Rags to Riches: Cinderella plot diagram example still uses the pyramid structure where the story starts with the protagonists being poor and having to make their way into a more comfortable life. Like Cinderella, the plot slowly rises as the protagonist meets someone who'll turn Cinderella's dream into reality. The plot diagram example below shows that the shiny shoe represents the story's climax. Ultimately, Cinderella marries a prince and experiences a more prosperous life.
The Quest Plot Diagram
The quest plot structure involves a hero who must achieve something. It could also be that the protagonist must fulfill a task or reach a specific location while meeting several hurdles. An example of a quest plot style is shown below. As you can see, the beginning and end are likely similar. It starts with a peaceful and calm scenario and must end with the hero restoring peace. In between these two acts are scenarios where the hero sets out on a journey after hearing a call. Like the first plot diagram example, the climax here is when the protagonist experiences obstacles. The falling action is completing the mission.
Voyage and Return Plot Diagram
If you're thinking of writing a story about a person looking for greener pastures, this plot diagram example can be an ideal inspiration. The Voyage and return plot style follows a protagonist who travels to a foreign place, experiences obstacles, makes discoveries, and returns home with valuable lessons with them. The diagram below still adapts the pyramid structure where the hero's comfort zone represents the story's exposition or start. Various rising actions are involved here, including the desire to set out to a strange place, embark on the journey to the unfamiliar place, and the challenges and adaptation the hero experiences. Unlike the previous examples where the climax involves the highest emotions, the voyage and return climax is when the hero gets what they want. As you know, the story ends with improvements from the protagonist's initial situation.
Rebirth Plot Diagram
Fairytale stories fall under this rebirth plot diagram example. It focuses on the character's development and its subsequent transformation. The story of Beauty and the Beast is an ideal representation of the rebirth plot style. The template below shows that the main character starts as someone who fell under a dark spell. While some things might have gone well as the story progresses, there's a time in the rising action when the spell eventually imprisons the character. The example below does not clearly show the climax but directly goes to falling action, where redemption has solved the situation and the character has been reborn as a nice person. As you know, fairytales always end happily ever after.
Romantic Comedy Plot Diagram
Romantic comedy plots are diverse, but one of the most common is when characters meet, they part ways because of a conflict or an argument but eventually realize their love for each other and reunite. What you can see from the template below is also another story. Two people had an unfortunate meeting, met again for the second time, and decided to date. The misunderstanding is the climax of this romantic comedy plot. There's also a long stretch of the breakup before the reconciliation. When you structure the diagram, it pays to use diagramming software like Boardmix, which allows you to have a fun and colorful template like the example below. You can add images and stickers to represent significant elements in your plot.
Tragedy Plot Diagram: Romeo and Juliet
While Romeo and Juliet has romantic subplots, its ending is unlike a typical romantic comedy. The Tragedy: Romeo and Juliet follows the dramatic structure of the Freytag pyramid. It has five parts: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and ending. The plot looks romantic during the rising action, where Romeo and Juliet fall in love with each other. One critical part of the example below is when Romeo runs into Tybalt and eventually kills him during the plot's climax. The falling action in this plot hints at how the story will end. Instead of a happily ever after, Romeo buys poison after learning about Juliet's death. Both main characters die in the story.
FAQs about the plot diagram
What are the 6 elements of a plot diagram?
If you're using the conventional example of structuring your plot diagram, it must include the following six elements.
- Rising action
- Falling action
Remember that the elements will vary based on the type of plot you'll use. As you can see from the last plot diagram example above, it only has five essential elements. This is why, besides deciding on how you want to tell your story, knowing which model to use is also fitting.
How does a plot diagram work?
The plot diagram represents the bare bones of your story. It lets writers and readers visualize the vital features of a story. As you can observe from the seven examples, they all present the relationships and interconnectedness of every character and scenario from beginning to end. In short, the plot diagram is more than just there for you to illustrate the characters and story developments. It's also your way of proving that the scenarios make sense and contribute to your story's overall message. Most importantly, a plot diagram is only helpful when properly structured. Boardmix has templates to create your plot and easily share them with your team for better collaboration.