In literature, what are the exposition, point of attack, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution?

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kcoleman2016 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In literature, each of these terms is a step in Freytag's Pyramid, or Dramatic Structure. This was a theory invented by Gustav Freytag, a German writer in the 19th century. He analyzed hundreds of stories and identified similar patterns in their plots. The result was what he called his Pyramid, or a series of steps that track the development of a plot. It is shaped like a pyramid because its course is meant to track the rise and fall of tension in the story. Each of the terms you listed is a step in the pyramid, which I will explain in order: 

  1. Exposition: The creation of the scene, in which the author presents the characters and setting. 
  2. Point of Attack: Usually known as the Inciting Incident, this is the moment that begins the action. It usually is an instigation of the main conflict, or a complication. 
  3. Rising Action: The story builds and gets more exciting.
  4. Climax: The moment of highest tension in the story, at which point the resolution of the main conflict seems more improbable. 
  5. Falling Action: Events happen as a result of the climax, and the story moves towards a solution for the conflict.
  6. Resolution: The conflict is solved.