Many writers struggle to pinpoint how they would like to see their story play out. Many times they feel inundated with feelings of despair of where their story is going or how the progression of their story is seemingly marching off into an unknown distance with no end in sight. It is easy to fall into this trap, however, if you stick to the basic five parts of a story you will be assured a structured and well-rounded story. There are different thoughts as to how a story is broken up into different elements. It serves to give a new writer a foundation to plot how they would like to structure their story. The Most popular of these is the 5-act Dramatic Structure developed by Gustav Freytag.
The first element of Freytag’s Dramatic Structure is Exposition, or in a sense the background behind the story. It allows the author to relate to the reader the story behind the story or the events that lead up to the beginning of the story. This is where the author introduces the characters of the story as well as the conflict in which the characters face. This is the most important element of the story, as the author must sell the characters to the reader, if the reader becomes disinterested in the cause of the characters the rest of the story is in jeopardy.
The second element is the Rising Action. The Rising Action is the part of the story where the characters and incident is already established and now events transpire that build a lead up to the Climax. This is where an author may place related events that add interest to the story or perhaps convey important themes that assist in the buildup toward the climax. Many times authors author use this part of the story to allow their protagonist to grow or learn lessons that will prepare them for the climax.
The third element is the Climax. The Climax is where the excitement of the story is at its peak and all other previous elements are drawn together for maximum intensity for the reader. It serves as the point of the story where the characters begin to solve the problem.
The fourth element in the story is the Falling Action. The Falling Action portion follows the climax and is where the author draws together any loose ends within the story. The author may choose to save the final moment of suspense until this point or resolve the conflict between the protagonist and the antagonist.
The fifth and final element within the story is the resolution. The resolution is after the conflict is resolved and the author lays out for the reader what will happen to the characters after the conflict. Generally the author will try to garner a sense of emotional release from the reader leaving them satisfied with the outcome of the story.
Keeping to this easy outline will give a story structure and allow for little unnecessary deviation or digression that will lose the reader. While it is not necessary to follow the structure for success, it will set a new writer up for success as they learn their craft.