Plotline Definition

A plot line is the sequence a story will typically follow. There are six stages to the plot line: Introduction, which establishes the plot and explains what the story is about; Rising Action, this is the portion of the story when actions leading to the Conflict are happening; Conflict, this is where the main problem of the story makes itself known; Climax, this represents the peak of the pre-established conflict; Falling Action, which is the part of the story where the actions to resolve the conflict are happening; Resolution, which represents where the solution to the conflict is implemented and completed.


Every plotline basically follows the same stages: Introduction (or exposition), Rising action, Conflict, Climax, Falling action (or denouement), and resolution (or conclusion). The introduction is going to set up the plot and tell you what the story is about. It’s at the very beginning and is just there to get everything set up.

On this diagram that can represent plot (you might call this a plot diagram), your introduction would be here. Your rising action is everything leading up to the conflict; all the action leading up to your conflict. Everything that happens before you find out what your conflict is going to be rising action. You can see how it rises up the slope of this plot diagram. Your conflict is going to be your main problem. Now, there may be lots of problems in this particular story, so the main problem is what’s your conflict is going to be. That’s located further up on the diagram.

You’ve got your introduction where everything gets set up, rising action leading up to your conflict or problem (that’s the point in the plot where you find out what the main problem is going to be), and the climax is going to be that very important part where the conflict comes to a head. It’s the peak of the conflict. If there were people that didn’t know about this problem, the climax is when everyone finally finds out. The climax is that period at the top. It’s when all that action that’s been building up and rising finally comes to a head; it comes to the top. After that, your story starts resolving itself. Your falling action is going to be what comes after the conflict; the beginning of a resolution. Things start to resolve themselves.

We’ve got our falling action. It’s going to fall the same way our rising action began. The author may be tying up any loose ends, getting you ready for the end of the story with your falling action. Then, we’ve got the resolution or conclusion. This is where you might find – sometimes the author leaves you wondering – but you will probably find a solution to your conflict. Whatever the main problem was, your resolution is usually going to contain your solution to that. That’s going to be over here at the bottom; your resolution or conclusion.

Whenever you’re going through a story, it’s usually going to follow these main stages. You’re going to start with the introduction, where all of your plot information is set up. You kind of know what your story is about. You’ve got rising action. You’ve got characters interacting. You’ve got the plot building. Then you get to the conflict; you get to a problem. After that, it’s about how the characters are going to solve the problem. Then, you get to the climax where everyone now knows about the problem. It’s the very peak of the conflict. After that, you’ve got your falling action. Everyone is wrapping things up. They’re fixing the problem however they decided to fix it after the climax, and in the resolution you find out what that solution is (most of the time). Any loose ends are wrapped up, finally, in that resolution.

Sometimes you will have an author who leaves some questions hanging. A lot of times if there’s a cliffhanger ending to a book, and you know there’s going to be a sequel, or the same with the movie, then the plotline might not give you a solution. They’re going to give you another book later on that hopefully has a solution in it. Whenever you’re looking at any literary work, look for a plotline in it to help you understand what’s happening. If you can understand your plot, you’re going to be able to understand everything else in the story a lot better.



by Mometrix Test Preparation | Last Updated: August 14, 2019