How GUSTAV FREYTAG’S Pyramid scheme can help YOU have a clearer overview of a STORY?

Simplicity, that’s the word ur looking for right now. Gustav Freytag’s pyramid must be the most elementary, yet deceitfully helpful map to think about a story. It’s composed of seven distinctive plot points that are often called the seven key steps to any story.

So, which are the they?

  • Exposition
  • Inciting incident
  • Rising action
  • Climax
  • Falling action
  • Resolution
  • Denouement

Now, let’s go one by one to try and figure out what do they mean, but also how to approach them in the best possible way! U in? Let’s go!

Exposition

I know, the word itself sounds boring. Many people think or rather feel that exposition is the cancer of stories, well maybe in dialogue! Truth is, without due exposition there can’t be any story. So, what is this thing anyway? It’s the initial important background information that the reader/viewer must know in order to understand what’s coming next.

It’s composed by:

  • Setting, or the world in which the story happens. It’s the physical grounds of the whole thing, but also the culture and society.
  • Previous events, facts or actions that happened before the beginning of the story, but that they’re relevant for us to know moving forward.
  • Backstory, this is also referred to as the background of characters. Now, don’t go too far in building this backstory, limit urself to write only those aspects of a character that can help ur story move forward (only those things that are relevant for the story!).

Inciting incident

This is the first major event in the story, the first true plot twist! An event that kicks off the action. The idea is for it to give us information about the main conflict that’s gonna happen later on and also may function as the protagonist introduction (not an obligation!).

Rising action

This concept is not necessarily a single plot point, rather a series of events building towards the climax of the story. In classic storytelling, it’s composed of many obstacles that the antagonist puts in the protagonist way to prevent him from achieving a goal at the climax, but also from the continued efforts from the protagonist to keep moving towards this goal or objective.

Climax

We’ve often heard about this idea of a climax, the point of maximum tension on a story. It’s the single most important event on the entire structure and, since the beginning of the story, all the action should lead, one way or another, up to this point. So, the idea is to set it up by building ur rising action up to this point.

Yet there’s another part about the climax that is worth keeping in mind. When thinking about character, the climax should be the moment of a mayor revelation. A point in which, with his/her back against the wall, the protagonist show’s us who he/she really is.

Falling action

This is often called the fallout that comes after the climax. It’s a moment in which tension is cleared and revelations or reflections about the conflict happen. In modern storytelling, this is the part where the protagonist learns the true meaning of his/her quest and gets to understand the cost of their actions.

Resolution

Simply put, this is the part of the story where the protagonist solves the main conflict or problem that was posed in the inciting incident, the objective is cleared!

Denouement

The ending of the story, where any remaining mystery or questions surrounding the plot are answered. In filmmaking there’s a long tradition of using the denouement to present what it’s called a metaphoric scene, one that poetically gives us a sense of the deeper meaning of the story.

Simple enough, isn’t it? So now u can actually visualize ur story by simply imagining these seven key steps to structure ur story in a way that gives order and sense of motion to the plot! Really cool, uh? So, next we’ll be diving the relationship between plot and character, are u up for it?

Best of lucks and remember… GO WRITE!

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