Plot diagram pdf

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Plot Diagram and Narrative Arc

Narrative arcs and the prototypical “Plot Diagram” are essential for building literary comprehension and appreciation. Plot diagrams allow students to pick out major themes in the text, trace changes to major characters over the course of the narrative, and hone their analytic skills. Lessons emphasizing these skills meet many Common Core Standards for English Language Arts (CCSS.ELA-Literacy). The concepts not only give students a fuller understanding of classroom texts, but also their favorite books and movies.

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Elements of Plot Structure


The exposition is the introduction to a story, including the primary characters' names, setting, mood, and time.


The conflict is the primary problem that drives the plot of the story, often a main goal for the protagonist to achieve or overcome.

Rising Action

The rising action of the story is all of the events that lead to the eventual climax, including character development and events that create suspense.


The climax is the most exciting point of the story, and is a turning point for the plot or goals of the main character.

Falling Action

The falling action is everything that happens as a result of the climax, including wrapping-up of plot points, questions being answered, and character development.


The resolution is not always happy, but it does complete the story. It can leave a reader with questions, answers, frustration, or satisfaction.

By plotting simple narrative arcs in three-cell storyboards, or more complicated stories in six-cell boards, teachers can easily assess students’ understanding of important story components. Combined illustrations and text can enliven difficult concepts like “rising action” and “climax”.

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Plot Diagram Template

Making storyboards that explain a plot bring students' understanding to life! It's an engaging and fun way for students to interact with the texts they read in class. The details and characters featured in students’ storyboards allow instructors to immediately determine whether students comprehend the scope of the objectives. For narrative arcs for younger grades or other plot diagram templates, make sure to check out "Four Innovative Ways to Teach Parts of a Story".

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Classroom Exercises and Book Reports

Some fun ways to teach this lesson using Storyboard That:

  • Have students illustrate exposition, rising action, conflict, climax, falling action, and resolution, in a six-cell storyboard.
  • As part of editing, have students diagram their own creative writing to find major plot points.
  • Put an empty storyboard on an assessment, and require students to illustrate the plot points of a class text.

Plot Diagram Examples from Literature

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Suggested Modifications

For the Students Who Need Minimal Guidance

Within special education there are varying degrees of abilities, including students who may have disabilities that have a minimal impact on their cognitive abilities. Those students for whatever reason may still be in a special education setting but won’t necessarily need significant modifications on something like a plot diagram. For the students that require minimal assistance, a blank plot diagram with very little or no information completed may be the way to go. As the creator of the storyboard, the teacher can control just what information is provided and decide how much he wants to guide his students. Use the templates above as they are, or make slight adjustments to the templates.

For the Students Who Need a Little Guidance

Some students will need a little more guidance when it comes to a plot diagram. Students who struggle with reading comprehension may have difficulty picking out the different parts of a story. Details of the story can be lost in translation, so to speak. That is where a plot diagram with some leading information can be helpful. Incorporating the visual aspect into the storyboard prior to asking the students to complete the plot diagram gives them “clues” as to what they are looking for when completing the diagram. The visuals act as context clues for students so they can focus their energy on the appropriate information, as seen in the Holes Plot Diagram.

Create a Plot Diagram*

For the Students Who Need More Guidance

Storyboarding allows for variations that also work for those students who really struggle and require more explicit guidance. For the students who can still complete the plot diagram as an assignment but need simplification, you can alter the plot diagram to a more basic beginning-middle-end (BME) approach. With the BME storyboard the amount of information included can still be as little or as much as needed for the students. Check out BME storyboard templates and examples already completed and ready for use.

If the BME is not exactly conducive to the assignment and the students require a more in-depth plot diagram with all the information, a completed plot diagram storyboard may be the better way to go. The students can then use it as a reference rather than an assignment. Options like this are great, especially when the students notice what other students have or don’t have. From afar, it will look like they received the same storyboard, but in actuality they each have one that meets their needs.

Create a Plot Diagram*

Relating to the Common Core

Analyzing a literary work with a plot diagram fulfills Common Core ELA standards for many age groups. Below are only two examples of ELA standards for different levels. Please see your Common Core State Standards for grade-appropriate strands.

  • ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2: Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text

  • ELA-Literacy.RL.6.3: Describe how a particular story’s or drama’s plot unfolds in a series of episodes as well as how the characters respond or change as the plot moves toward a resolution

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Example Rubrics

33 Points
25 Points
17 Points

Each cell includes a creative heading. Cells include images that help to tell the story and do not hinder understanding.

A cell is missing a heading, or headings are completely unrelated to the diagrammed work.

Cells have no headings.

There are three cells. Each one represents a different part of the story. The cells are in order from beginning to end.

Cells are out of order.

One or more of the cells is missing

Spelling and grammar is mostly accurate. Mistakes do not hinder understanding.

Spelling is very inaccurate and hinders full understanding.

Cells cannot be understood.

33 Points
25 Points
17 Points

Creativity and imagery are used effectively (helps to tell the story). At least three Textables are included in plot diagram.

Creative elements (clipart) are somewhat distracting. At least two Textables throughout their plot diagram.

Creativity is minimally apparent, and the overall design shows a lack of effort. Clipart may be confusing and distract from the story. Student used one or fewer Textables.

Spelling within the Textables is mostly correct (fewer than eight errors). Grammar does not hinder understanding.

Spelling within textables is somewhat correct (fewer than 10 errors). Grammar may hinder some understanding or make reading difficult.

Spelling is mostly incorrect (10 or more errors). Grammar severely hinders understanding.

There are three complete slides: one for beginning, one for the middle, and one for the end. Slides explain the work of prose and are easy to follow.

There are three cells, but one or two do not depict the correct element within the work of prose (e.g. the beginning is misplaced). Story is somewhat difficult to follow.

One or more cells is missing. Only one part of the plot is represented (e.g. only the beginning). Story is hard to follow.

Create a plot diagram for the story using Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.

25 Points
21 Points
17 Points
Try Again
13 Points

Cells have many descriptive elements, and provide the reader with a vivid representation.

Cells have many descriptive elements, but flow of cells may have been hard to understand.

Cells have few descriptive elements, or have visuals that make the work confusing.

Cells have few or no descriptive elements.

Textables have three or fewer spelling/grammar errors.

Textables have four or fewer spelling/grammar errors.

Textables have five or fewer spelling/grammar errors.

Textables have six or more spelling/grammar errors.

Work is well written and carefully thought out. Student has done both peer and teacher editing.

Work is well written and carefully thought out. Student has either teacher or peer editing, but not both.

Student has done neither peer, nor teacher editing.

Work shows no evidence of any effort.

All parts of the plot are included in the diagram.

All parts of the plot are included in the diagram, but one or more is confusing.

Parts of the plot are missing from the diagram, and/or some aspects of the diagram make the plot difficult to follow.

Almost all of the parts of the plot are missing from the diagram, and/or some aspects of the diagram make the plot very difficult to follow.

Customize Worksheets!

If you're looking for another step or an alternative assignment, you can create plot diagram worksheets to use in your class! These worksheets can be customized and printed out for students to fill out with a pencil, or they can be completed in the Storyboard Creator like a digital worksheet. You can even create multiple versions for those students who might need a little extra help, and keep them on hand for future use! Find plenty of templates to work from or just start with a blank canvas.

Find more lesson plans and activities like these in our English Language ArtsCategory!

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All storyboards are public and can be viewed and copied by anyone. They will also appear in Google search results.

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The author can choose to leave the storyboard public or mark it as Unlisted. Unlisted storyboards can be shared via a link, but otherwise will remain hidden.

Educational Edition

All storyboards and images are private and secure. Teachers can view all of their students’ storyboards, but students can only view their own. No one else can view anything. Teachers may opt to lower the security if they want to allow sharing.

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All storyboards are private and secure to the portal using enterprise-class file security hosted by Microsoft Azure. Within the portal, all users can view and copy all storyboards. In addition, any storyboard can be made “sharable”, where a private link to the storyboard can be shared externally.

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FREE 10+ Plot Diagram Samples in MS Word | Pages | Google Docs | PDF

What is a Plot Diagram?

A plot diagram is a pyramid-shaped tool used to organize parts of the story to analyze its content and its key features. It’s also a useful tool for writers to map out the events of the story. The pyramid-shaped structure of the plot diagram represents the beginning, middle, and end of a story. This concept was first conceptualized by was described by Aristotle and later modified by Gustav Freytag by adding a rising action and a falling action to the diagram.

How to Create a Plot Diagram?

These elements in the plot are identified as the highlights or major events in a story.  This where the story takes a big turn or progresses into another sequence of events. These elements are:

  • Exposition: The beginning of the story. It is the part where the characters are introduced, the setting is described, and the conflict is established. This part is also where you show the normal lives of your characters before the conflict or problem happens which will change their daily activities or affect the characters either in a negative or positive way. Usually, the conflict that happens can also be described as an inciting incident.
  • Rising Action: The rising action builds up the tension of the story for the climax. This is the part where the suspense of the conflict builds up and gets complicated. This part is also the largest part of the story. This is also where the dilemma takes place. A dilemma or crisis is a sub-element of the plot where the character is put in a difficult position to make a choice that would greatly affect the climax.
  • Climax: This part is the most exciting and engaging part of the story. This is the part where the rising action has been working towards. All the outcomes of the decisions made by the characters are revealed.
  • Falling Action: Once the excitement has faded away, the falling action now takes place. This part is where events happen after the climax and that will lead to the resolution of the story.
  • Resolution: The resolution or denouement is where the story ends. It resolves the characters’ conflicts and issues and incorporates all the changes that happened to them in this part. Basically, this is the part where the story gives closure.


How do you plot a story?

Plotting a story can be difficult for writers especially if they’re not sure how they want their story to take place. However, there are some tips to help them: Create a brief outline of the story, write out the central conflict, pick a point of view, and from that writers can now select the structure of their story.

What is the first step in comprehending a plot?

To comprehend a plot, you need to examine the obstacles, the climax, and the resolution of the plot. This will help you analyze the other parts of the plot better.

What is the difference between plot and theme?

The plot is the actual storyline or a narrative where events take place while the theme is the main idea of the story.

Now that you are aware of what a plot diagram is, how it works, and how it is written, it’ll be easier for you to analyze a story in its different parts and it is also easier for you to write and organize your story. If you want to start practicing how to analyze a plot diagram, refer to our sample templates above. They are free to download and are also printable so you can download as many as you like!

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10+ Plot Diagram Examples in PDF

10+ Plot Diagram Examples in PDF

Storytelling is one of the favorite activities of every child and child-at-heart. Besides being entertaining, it also teaches lessons and cultivates creativity, communication skills, and artistic expression through speech or writing. Stories can be short or long. Sometimes, some stories can be not that easy to comprehend for others. That’s why we explain the plot in the most digestible way possible using a diagram; hence, plot diagram.

Were you assigned or do you just want to create a plot diagram for a story but don’t know which way to go? Check a glimpse of our examples below and picture out how you want to present a story using a graphic organizer.

1. Plot Diagram Template

2. Sample Plot Diagram

3. Plot Diagram Example

4. Basic Plot Diagram

5. Plot Diagram in PDF

6. Event Plot Diagram

7. Black Cat- Plot Diagram

8. Simple Plot Diagram

9. Plot Diagram Format

10. General Plot Diagram Template

11. Printable Plot Diagram

Plot Diagram: Definition and Elements


As discussed in our English or storytelling/story writing class, a plot diagram is a graphical representation of the plot of the story. Through this graphical presentation, the storyline and plot structure is (often) presented from left (beginning) to right (conclusion).

A plot diagram can have many names. Some call it a plot triangle, others call it a plot mountain diagram. Regardless, they serve the same purpose and take the same route in presenting a story. Whether you are writing creatively or analyzing another author’s story, you can study the whole storyline using a plot diagram.


There are six elements of a plot. These six are broken down into three chronological segments: beginning (exposition and conflict), middle (rising action and climax), and conclusion (falling action and resolution).

Ways You Can Create a Plot Diagram

Other than just black and white, thin lines, and borderless texts, did you know that there are actually different ways you can create a plot diagram? Want to know every writer’s cheatsheet to plot and structure? Let’s get started!

1. Read the Story by Heart

To begin with, it’s important that you get a clear grasp of what the story is all about. What better way to do that than reading the entire story beforehand? As you read the story, consider taking down notes. This will help you keep in mind important details that can ultimately aid your storyline analysis.

2. Try PDF!

PDF offers exceptional graphic integrity as it displays the exact same content and layout no matter which operating system, device, or software application it is viewed on. As a teacher, or a presenter, what do you think about this?

Besides graphic integrity, it is also multi-dimensional. With this file format, you can integrate texts, images, vector graphics, videos, animation, audio files, and hyperlinks, among others.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Use Vector Graphics and Shapes

PDF offers you an array of vector graphic and shape options that suit your preference and style, so make good use of them.  Adding vector graphics can add a lively aesthetic to your plot diagram. More importantly, it’s also applicable if you’re presenting this to kids. On a side note, adding shapes can also help make your plot diagram look neat. Placing every plot element in a shape can help readers focus on each.

4. Take the Easy Route — Use TEMPLATES!

Our plot diagram templates are downloadable in a variety of software and office tools. Discover an easier way in creating a short story analysis. Make good use of our templates! Customize them to fit your needs and preference.


Where Do I Start in Analyzing a Plot?

The first step in comprehending a plot is the interpretation step. This is where you examine obstacles, the climax, and the resolution.

Is It Okay to Add Vector Graphics in My Plot Diagram?

It is actually fine to add vector graphics in a plot diagram, especially when it’s used in a kids’ learning environment (daycare, preschool, kindergarten, and elementary). But be careful though because this might distract kids and stray their focus away from the story.

How to “Hook” the Readers After Finishing the Conclusion?

Some authors use suspenseful moment(s) in ending the storyline. This allows a sense of urgency to keep readers turn to the next page. Another trick is to end the story with a cliffhanger or an “unsolved mystery”.


Studying other authors’ stories to create a narrative history essay or just trying to get story ideas for fiction writing? Creating a plot diagram can help you. It helps you grasp every bit of the storyline in a compelling and easily comprehensible way.

About to write a story? Or are you studying another writer’s work for your short academic essay, self evaluation essay, or any essay? Using a plot diagram is your go-to study tool.

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