How to Organize a Fictional Narrative

Organizing your fictional narrative is easy once you understand the basic plot structure formula, which has five stages. You can follow this structure exactly, or you can rearrange the stages to create different effects. Master the basic formula first and then play around with the stages to see the different effects you can create. You can also think of your narrative as a 3-act play which contains a beginning, a middle and an end.

Begin with an introduction, also called exposition. This stage of the narrative sets the background of the story. Include in this part a brief overview of the setting and the characters.

Create conflicts. These conflicts form the rising action of the fictional narrative. Conflicts can be either good or bad events that happen to your character. The key is that each conflict leaves the reader wondering what will happen next.

Bring the conflicts to a head by creating the climax of the story. This is the point of explosion in your narrative. The reader is on her toes at this point, and (hopefully) eager to see how things will play out.

Show what happens after the climax in the stage called Falling Action. Here is where you begin to tie up all the loose ends of your fictional narrative.

Resolve all conflicts you created before the climax. This stage of the narrative process is called the Resolution or the Denouement. Once the climax of the story plays out and all the loose ends are tied together, the story should come to a close.

  • Use transitional words to move from paragraph to paragraph.
  • Keep your conflicts to a minimum. Too many conflicts will bog down your fictional narrative and the reader might throw his hands up in disgust.
About the Author

Karen Silvestri is an English professor at Palm Beach State College in Lake Worth, Fla., and has been writing professionally since 1997. She also leads workshops on memoir writing, journaling, creative writing and poetry in her community and online. Silvestri holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, and studied business and education at the graduate level.

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