What is a Plot? Definition, Examples of Literary Plots

Plot definition: Plot is the way an author develops a series of events in a text.

What is a Plot?

What does plot mean? Plot is the storyline of a text. An author puts together a series of events to create a story. The sequence of that series of events is the plot.

Typically, an author develops a plot in such a way to pique the reader’s interest. That said, the storyline is not usually resolved until the near end of the text.

A simple example of plot using the fable The Tortoise and The Hare,

  • A race was run between a tortoise and a hare
  • The hare was sure he would win.
  • He stopped frequently along the way to display his confidence.
  • The tortoise did not think he would win but never gave up.
  • The hare became distracted.
  • The tortoise crossed the finish line first and won the race.

Structures of Traditional Plots

What is the plot meaning There is a traditional plot structure that many texts follow. Below is a common plot line example.


The exposition is the introduction to the story. Characters and setting are introduced.

Rising Action

The rising action presents a central conflict within a character or between one or more character. The conflict builds during the rising action.


The climax occurs when the conflict is at its peak and when there seems to be no viable solution to the conflict.

What is the definition of plot Falling Action

The falling action occurs after the climax when the reader is still unsure if the protagonist will be able to resolve the conflict.


The denouement (also called the resolution) is the conclusion to the plot. Typically, the conflict is resolved at this point.

The Function of Plot

Plot definition literature A story does not exist without a plot. A plot includes every event that occurs throughout a text.

The plot should be developed in such a way to interest the readers and to keep them guessing at the next points.

A good plot is one that has well-developed characters who are engaging in several conflicts.

Plot Examples in Literature

What is a plot of a story When an author writes a text, he wants to create interest for his readers. The overarching way for a writer to achieve this is through plot.

Readers put down a book because the storyline is uninteresting to them; furthermore, readers continue to read a text because of its plot components.

Some good examples of literary plots are held within the works of Shakespeare. Most Shakespeare plays follow the traditional plot structure, where Act I serves as the exposition, Act 3 the climax, and Act 5 the denouement.

Uses of Plot in Everyday Language

  • The result is a story at once fabulist and searingly precise, driven by a deadpan voice that manages to do equal literary justice to the suspense of the plot, the author’s version of historical truth and the emotions evoked by its protagonist, the young runaway slave Cora. –The Wall Street Journal
  • Book groups have been a popular plot device in commercial fiction. It’s a handy way to get a group of people together, and they’ll always have something to talk about. –The Washington Post

Summary: What is Plot in Literature?

What is the plot of a book Define plot in literature: the definition of plot in literature is the sequence of events that made up a storyline.

In summary, a plot is the basic storyline of a text. Most plots follow a traditional pattern, where the climax is the turning point of the text. A good plot generally leads to an interesting novel, as plot encompasses most literary elements.