8 junio, 2024

Narrative plot: elements, structure and examples

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

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 the year 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 development 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, interest is provoked in the reader and a logical sense is generated 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.


Narrative plot elements

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 the books follow the same main narrative plot and each book has a subplot.

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

A narrative plot must flee from two extremes, the excess of details and the lack of details. The narrative plot does not seek to tell event by event, it seeks to connect them. Things don’t happen for no reason.


lack of details

The boy was walking, stumbled, fell, they took him to the hospital.

excessive detail

The boy was walking down the narrow and long street that was right in front of his house. While walking where he always did, he came across a very wide and tall rock, large, gray in color that had holes on one side and made him stumble.

He fell, broke a bone and they had to take him to the 5-story white hospital with 6 elevators, which is next to the square…

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

On the contrary, focusing on every detail makes you lose the basis of the plot. In the second example, all the details of the environment are disclosed and with so much information the plot of the narrative is lost.

The plot should develop 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 is presented in whole or in part, the context and environment. The main character, the subject or subjects that will lead the plot should be presented and the development of the story should be given rise to.

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 knowing characters, environment and situations, we move on to the interaction of the characters with said 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 is dealt with, that is, the order of each situation.


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

In this part, the characters must get to the bottom of the matter, find out why things happened, and bring closure to the plot.


If the book is taken as an example «The Hunger Games»the structure of the narrative plot is evidenced.

The beginning shows who Katniss (the protagonist) 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.

The development of the plot focuses on Katniss’s interaction in the games, how she deals with them and how she manages 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 narrative plot structure be used?

If a plot has a bad start, it will not be possible to know what caused the action of the story, which will leave a gap in the questions: Who? and because?

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

If a plot has a bad ending, the reader will be left up in the air to understand what happened. You will be shown how he started and how he approached the issue, but it will not be possible to know how he resolved it and will leave an inconclusive and incomprehensible ending.

Plot of a book/novel

Remember that the plot is the order in which 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 short story

In the narrative genre of the novel, the plot is not far from what arises in the stories. Something interesting about this was what the writer Jorge Luis Borges thought; the creator of The Aleph He maintained that novels were nothing more than long stories, which is why they became tedious.

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

The factor of the size of the text has a direct impact on the plot, since it inevitably tends to complicate it, due to the fact that the number of characters, spaces and interactions can be increased. Likewise, there will be a central knot and a series of secondary knots developed in parallel until reaching the outcome.

The novel and the conversational plot

In addition to the common descriptive plot, the novel allows more broadly for the development of the conversational plot. That is to say, it facilitates the more 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 stupendous case is the one presented by Gabriel García Márquez in One Hundred Years of Solitude. What is this about? Simple, you don’t 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.

Story plot example

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

– Introduction

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


“Everything happened in the well-known town of Jalisco, with its Snowy 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 soul of the party», or, in this case, of the task.

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

In the fragment you can see how the site of the events and their qualities are presented, as well as the characters and the links that link them. With these data, the author allows the story to be spun or «weaving» in the mind of the reader.

– Development

This is where things start to get complicated. Something happens in the environment or in the characters that leads them to be part of a problem or an entanglement that changes the routine and can jeopardize 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 kidnapping.

– A natural phenomenon.

– An accident.

– An illness.

– A debt.

– Just to name a few.

– Depending on what the author chooses, 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 covered the entire town of Jalisco, spreading up to five kilometers out to sea»…

From this plot example an infinite list of possibilities can arise in what the characters’ reactions are concerned. It’s up to the author, according to his imagination and ingenuity, he chooses the one that best suits what he wants to convey.

– Outcome

This part of the plot directly depends 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 can be achieved.

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 exposes 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 after you.

Missing you is normal

what persists in my memory,

my island,

island of solitudes”.

– Closing

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