Narrative plot elements and structure

Narrative plot

The narrative plot or narrative core is the sequence of a short story, novel, poem, or story. It is used in narrative texts, those that tell a story, and has a particular structure and elements. Narrative plot elements and structure

An example to understand exactly what the narrative plot is, was given by the novelist EM Forster in his book Aspects of the novel in 1927: “The king and queen died is a story. The king and queen died of pain is the plot ”.

The narrative plot is based on the unfolding of the story and all the elements that converge in it. It is characterized by giving the reader a sense of cause and effect. Thanks to it, the reader is interested and generates a logical sense to the story.

The narrative is found, most of the time, as a category of fiction; as is the case with novels and stories. But you can tell a story with real characters, like the style of biographies and autobiographies. That is why any narrative text can and should have a plot.

Elements of the narrative plot

The basic elements of the narrative plot are a cause, a consequence and a resolution of the problem.

“Harry Potter” is an example of a well-structured narrative plot. All books follow the same main narrative plot and each book has a subplot. Narrative plot elements and structure

Harry Potter was the only person who survived an attack by the antagonist (cause), the antagonist pursues him (consequence), in order to end him (problem). Harry Potter defeats the antagonist (problem solving).

A narrative plot must flee from two extremes, from excess details and lack of details. The narrative plot does not seek to tell event by event, it seeks to connect them. Things don’t happen without reason.


Lack of details

The boy walked, tripped, fell, he was taken to hospital.

Excess of details

The boy was walking down the long and narrow street that was right in front of his house. As he was walking where he always did, he found a very wide and tall, large, gray rock with holes in one side and it tripped him.

He fell, broke a bone and had to be taken to the 5-story white hospital that has 6 elevators, which is next to the square …

In the first example the cause is not found, nor the connection of facts. Why did you stumble? What happened to him when he fell? Why was he taken to the hospital?

On the contrary, focusing on every detail causes the basis of the plot to be lost. In the second example, all the details of the environment are revealed and with so much information the plot of the narrative is lost.

The plot should unfold naturally.

A boy walking, tripped on a rock (cause), broke a bone (problem), and was taken to the hospital (solution)


A good narrative plot must follow a structure so that it can be understood.


The beginning should give the introduction to the story. Here the context and environment are presented in whole or in part. The main character, the subject or subjects who will lead the plot should be introduced and the development of the story should be allowed.

In this part of the plot, the reason why the character performs his actions is shown. For example, a thought, a problem or a situation.


The development of the plot is the middle part of the story; after meeting characters, environment and situations, the characters interact with those situations.

At this stage, the narrative plot should focus on how the characters deal with the problem and how the situation is handled in order to resolve it.

In fact, the development of the story is the heart of the narrative plot. This is where most of the events happen and the chronological aspect, that is, the order of each situation, is dealt with.


The end of the story is the segment of the plot in which problems must be resolved, for better or for worse, since not all narratives have “happy” endings.

In this part, the characters must get to the bottom of the matter, know why things happened and give closure to the plot.


If the book “The Hunger Games” is taken as an example , the structure of the narrative plot is evident.

The beginning shows who Katniss (the main character) is, where she comes from, who she knows and where she is. The beginning of the development of the story is shown, in this case a situation: the choice of tributes for the games. Narrative plot elements and structure

The development of the plot focuses on Katniss’ interaction in the games, how she copes with them, and how she handles herself within them.

The end shows the result of the completion of The Games, after having seen the interaction of the characters with the situation.

Why should the narrative plot structure be used?

If a plot has a bad beginning, it will not be possible to know what originated the action of the story, which will cause a void in the questions: Who? and because?

If a plot has a poor development, it is understood why it started everything but it does not delve into the plot itself. The evolution of the characters cannot be appreciated and the question is not answered: How? Poor development will result in a poorly told story.

If a plot has a bad ending, the reader will be left in the air to understand what happened. It will show you how you started and how you approached the issue, but you will not be able to know how you resolved it and will leave an unfinished and unintelligible ending.

Plot of a book/novel

Let us remember that the plot comes to be the order as the events of a story are presented. If we talk about the plot of a book, referring with this to a work of wide extension, a novel would be the clearest example.

The novel and the tale

In the narrative genre of the novel, the plot is not far from what is posed in the stories. Something interesting about this was what the writer Jorge Luis Borges thought; the creator of The Aleph maintained that the novels were not more than elongated stories, reason why they got to be tedious.

In the novels there is also a presentation of characters and settings, a point where the complications of the knot and the subsequent outcome occur. Perhaps the clear difference is what Borges raises, the simple extension.

The factor of the size of the text has a direct impact on the plot, as it inevitably tends to complicate it, because the number of characters, spaces and interactions can be increased. Likewise, there will be a central node and a series of secondary nodes developed in parallel until the end is reached.

The novel and the conversational plot

In addition to the common descriptive plot, the novel allows the development of the conversational plot in a broader way. That is, it facilitates the most extensive and detailed presentation of dialogues between the characters, which helps the reader to have a greater vision of the plot of the story.

The novel and the chronology, and an excellent example

A section that greatly enriches the narrative plot is the change in chronological order. A wonderful case is the one presented by Gabriel García Márquez in One Hundred Years of Solitude. What is this about ?, Simple, it does not necessarily start at the beginning of the story, but in the middle or the end. It all depends on the taste and intention of the author. Narrative plot elements and structure

Example of a story plot

The plot of a story is essentially made up of three parts: the introduction, the middle and the ending.

– Introduction

In the introduction, a large part of the main characters are usually presented, including the protagonist. These are described in detail so that the reader will associate them by their qualities . Here are also presented the different relationships between the characters that make up the story and the characteristics of the environment.


“Everything happened in the well-known town of Jalisco, with its Nevado Volcano in the background and the Colima Volcano, both rising to decorate the landscape next to the beautiful Pacific Ocean. There, José, Pedro and Luis lived fully exercising the trade of fishing.

“José was the father of a family, a 45-year-old man who had been a fisherman all his life. He deeply loved his five children and his wife, the reason for his effort. Pedro, for his part, was José’s nephew, an enthusiastic and fun young man, whom anyone would call “the life of the party”, or, in this case, of the job.

Lastly, Luis was Pedro’s brother and José’s father, a lonely dreamer, the typical self-absorbed fisherman and lover of the sea.

In the fragment you can see how the site of the events is presented and its qualities, as well as the characters and the links that link them. With these data, the author allows the story to go spinning or “weaving” in the reader’s mind.

– Developing

Things start to get complicated here. Something happens in the environment or in the characters that leads them to be part of a problem or a mess that changes the routine and can endanger everyone’s happiness.

Here the complications will depend on the author, there are many plots that can occur, among them we can mention:

– A theft.

– A rapture.

– A natural phenomenon.

– An accident.

– An illness.

– A debt.

– Just to name a few.

– Depending on the one chosen by the author, it will be the development of each character.


“When summer arrived, something unexpected happened, the Colima Volcano erupted, and it was so big that the ashes completely engulfed the people of Jalisco, spreading up to five kilometers out to sea” …

From this example plot an infinite list of possibilities can emerge in what reactions of the characters are concerned. It touches the author, according to his imagination and ingenuity, choose the one that best suits what he wants to convey. Narrative plot elements and structure

– Outcome

This part of the plot depends directly on the development that was chosen during the knot. It is worth noting that each narrative work will have scope according to the author’s effort to do something original and not done before. This seems difficult, but with a lot of reading and practice it is accomplished.

Plot example of a poem

The plot of a poem is also called “poetic plot.” This is developed by the author in order to exalt the quality of a thing or person, that which is poeticized. It is usually presented in the same way in three parts: presentation of the poetic object, exaltation and closure. The end of the poetic plot is the transmission of a message.

– Presentation of the poetic object

In this part the poet exposes what inspired him to write, the key point of his inspiration.


“His presence is evident in my lyrics,

everything I write names him,

is soul and muse,

my precious Margarita Island ”.

In this case the poetized object is a place, the Isla de Margarita. The poet states that it is his motive and that it is present in everything he writes.

– Exaltation of the poetic object  

Here the qualities of the object in question are enlarged to give strength to the message.


“There is no dream in which you do not appear

with your mist and your sea of ​​nostalgia,

with your star fishermen

and that sun that was named for you.

Missing you is the usual thing,

what persists in my memory ,

my island,

island of solitudes ”.

– Closing

Obviously, this section serves to end the idea raised by the poet.


“I have to return when the waters allow it,

when the snails weave the path that I require,

I will return to never leave, Narrative plot elements and structure

and be an eternal wave on your shore ”.

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