What is the definition of a plot in literature?

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The "plot" is the main story line that the author wants the reader to follow. It is like an outline that gives structure to the story. Without a plot there is no direction, no point toward which the story is working.

There are five elements to plot:

1. Exposition. This is where the readers are introduced to the main characters, the setting and the conflict of the story.

2. Rising Action. In this section conflict was previously introduced increases, adding to the tension and drama of the story.

3. Climax. This is where the conflict reaches a head and there is a turning point in the plot. What has been building takes place. Some questions are answered, but you still want to know more as a reader.

4. Falling Action. In this phase of the plot all of the previously loose ends begin to come together, giving a sense of completion.

5. Resolution. The concluding events and comments of the story. 

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Plot is developed through the overall structure of a story.  Plot in a story can be seen as a causal sequence of events, like a chain reaction of cause and effect.  Most plots (story and plot are not synonymous) typically contain these five elements: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. 

Exposition:  Introduces the setting and the characters where readers get to know the protagonist of the story while the plot conflict is introduced.

Rising action:  The rising action occurs when the story starts to build momentum in the conflict through a series of linked causal events.  

Climax:  The moment of truth in the story, the climax is the turning point of the story when the character must make some sort of decision or choice about the conflict that will decide the direction of the rest of the story.

Falling action: Falling action is the sequence of events that occur after the climax as the story winds down.

Resolution:  Also known as the denouement, the resolution is the part of the story where the protagonist's conflict(s) is resolved and the final details of the story are revealed.

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