What is the plot?

We explain what is the plot, its variations and its structure. In addition, the types of plot and writers that contributed to its definition.

The plot is the chronological thread of the events presented in a work.

What is the plot?

When we talk about plot in the context of narratives and narratology, we refer to the chronological thread of the events presented in a narrative work to the reader, that is, to the set of events that have place in the story. Some more or less synonymous terms of this are argument anecdote or history .

The events of the plot vary according to the story that is told. However, its structure and way of advancing respond to recognizable patterns, which have been occupied by scholars of the story since ancient times. The Greek philosopher Aristotle (384-322 a.C.) was one of the first to propose a method for the study of these matters in his Poetics (355 a.C.).

According to Aristotle, all plot consisted of three parts: an introduction, a complication and an outcome. This structure is considered classic in the study of stories even today.

  • Introduction . In this first section, the characters are revealed and the context in which the story will take place: place, time, and the basic conditions from which the climax of the story will unfold. The game rules of the story and the elements that the reader will have later on should be clear.
  • Complication, development or knot . Here are the impediments, obstacles or complications that lead to the climax of the story, that is, to its point of greatest emotional tension.
  • Desenlace or solution . The final segment of the plot, in which the events of the complication find a final solution, not necessarily beneficial for the protagonists, nor happy, but a final, final solution. It is the term of the plot, there is nothing more to tell after the outcome.

Many other writers and thinkers have contributed to the definition of the plot. The school of Russian Formalism, which emerged in the 20th century in pre-revolutionary Russia, was one of the intellectual groups that made the greatest contributions in the field of the study of the plot ( syuzet in Russian ) on the part of the Literary Theory.

Similarly, Sergio Pitol, a contemporary Mexican writer, affirmed that “the plot should be loved more than the outcome”, explaining that in literary creation rigor should be placed in the plot and not in surprising or mysterious endings.

  1. Frame types

The disclosure frames occur when the main conflict ends.

We can talk about different types of frames, according to different classification criteria, for example:

  • According to its term . This is, according to the recurring criteria about the moment of closure of the story.
  • Resolution patterns . Those in which the end occurs when an impediment or obstacle has been saved for good or for evil: when a patient is cured (or dies), when a rival is defeated (or defeated), when it is conquered (or lost) to the girl, etc. In general, they can be summarized as what is sought (or not).
  • Revelation frames . Are those in which the closure occurs when a major conflict, greater than the situations witnessed by the protagonist, have their end. For example, when a war ends, when old age or death is reached, when the years pass, etc.
  • According to its modes of presentation . That is, according to the textual strategy used to advance his story.
  • Narrative plot . That which is composed of events, actions, a recount of events.
  • Descriptive pattern . That one that advances through the description, that is to say, of the detail of personages, scenes, etc.
  • Argumentative plot . It is the one that advances based on the defense or attack of certain specific positions within the text.

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