Plot (narrative)

Plot: the cause-and-effect sequence of events.

Plot synopsis: a brief plot summary of the main plot line.

Plot Structure

Rising action

Click here for the full explanation (including plot diagram) of Hero’s Journey

Plot Lines and Subplot

The main plot line consists of the major events that lead directly to the climax and what is summarized by the synopsis.

Subplot is a secondary plot line, connected to the main plot, running parallel to the main plot and supporting the main plot. Example from Lord of the Rings: while Frodo travels dangerous lands to destroy the ring, others of the fellowship fight to stop the orcs from taking over the lands.

The 7 basic types of plots

Overcoming the Monster

The protagonist sets out to defeat an antagonistic force (often evil) which threatens the protagonist and/or protagonist’s homeland. Examples: James Bond, Star Wars. the handmaid’s tale

Rags to Riches

The poor protagonist acquires power, wealth, and/or a mate, loses it all and gains it back, growing as a person as a result. Examples: Cinderella, Aladdin, Game of Thrones

The Quest

The protagonist and companions set out to acquire an important object or to get to a location. They face temptations and other obstacles along the way. Examples: The Lord Of The Rings, Lightning Thief, Harry Potter

Voyage and Return

The protagonist goes to a strange land and, after overcoming the threats it poses to them, they return with experience. Examples: Alice in Wonderland, The Hobbit, Hunger Games


Light and humorous character with a happy or cheerful ending; a dramatic work in which the central motif is the triumph over adverse circumstance, resulting in a successful or happy conclusion. Booker stresses that comedy is more than humor. It refers to a pattern where the conflict becomes more and more confusing, but is at last made plain in a single clarifying event. The majority of romance films fall into this category. Examples: Bridget Jones’s Diary, Four Weddings and a Funeral


The protagonist’s character flaw or great mistake which is their undoing. Their unfortunate end evokes pity at their folly and the fall of a fundamentally good character. Examples: The Picture of Dorian Gray, Bonnie and Clyde, Romeo and Juliet


An event forces the main character to change their ways and often become a better person. Examples: Beauty and the Beast, Groundhog Day