Read the following quote:

The following is a story:

“The king died and then the queen died.”

And the following is a plot:

“The king died, and then the queen died of grief.”


So, think for a minute–what’s the difference between the two sentences?

The first line tells us the bare facts. With the first line, we don’t know when or in what state the queen was in. For all we know, the queen lived quite happily for 50 years before she died.

The second line tells us more–the state in which the queen died. Now we know they were very close. They were soul mates. The queen couldn’t adapt to life after the king’s death.

Simply put, plot is the sequence of events that make up the story. When you tell someone a story you often say: “X happened and Y happened, and then you’ll never guess what happened next!” Without realizing it, you are plotting your story.

All writers are conscious of plot, whether they’re writing a fantasy novel or a newspaper article. They are hyper-aware of the need to show that something happened because something else happened.


Typically a plot has three major parts—beginning, middle, and end

Each of these sections plays a specific role in the storytelling. There’s an old saying that in telling a story you should:

1) get your protagonist up in a tree,

2) throw rocks at your protagonist, and

3) get your protagonist down.

So, whenever you’re reading a story (fiction or nonfiction), you’ll probably be wondering the following questions:

Get Your Protagonist Up in a Tree aka the “Beginning”

  1. What’s the context (year, location, and other important setting details) of the story?

2. What’s the inciting incident (action that gets things going) in the story?

Throw Rocks aka the “Middle”

3. What’s the rising action (events that lead to the climax) in the story?

Get Down aka the “End”

4. What’s the climax (the most exciting or intense moment) in the story?

5. What’s the resolution (the “wrap up”) of the story?

What does this mean for your writing?

Consider your “Meet My _____.” Does it have the three parts of plot? Does it set the reader up with all the information they need? Does it have some kind of “conflict”? (This doesn’t have to be a negative thing–think of “conflict” as what caused you to purchase the item, etc.) Does it have a conclusion that wraps up the story?

And now, part of the Assignment for Week 4 is to write a new memoir piece (more on that in the Assignment page). As you write the new memoir piece, keep the formula in mind.

Questions? Come visit me during my office hours this week!