Plot elements are always the same when writing any story through the stages of writing development. This includes when writing creative nonfiction.
If you are adept at summarizing stories, I doubt you will ever find stories where any of these points are missing.
Analyze some of your own stories. Notice if you, too, have included each of these elements in your writing.
If any of these elements are missing from your stories, chances are, it will be a story you felt you weren’t ready to sell or publish because something wasn’t quite right. Check the stages or writing development of the story for missing or disconnected action and description.
The list below shows these major construction blocks and the order in which they will happen, or stages of writing development, as a story progresses.
Set Up (Want): Your protagonist or character’s needs
Rising Action: What your character does to reach his or her desired goal
Reversals (Plots Points): Something happens to the character to thwart him or her achieving their heart’s desire. Either right choices or mistakes are made by the character.
This is one of the areas that allow you to take your story in a new direction from what the character had intended. This is a major portion of the story because your character should be headed toward his or her goal when an occurrence stops them cold.
This will be the lengthiest of the stages of writing development.
Recognition: Your character realizes what he or she must do, how they must change, in order to overcome their mistakes and achieve their goal(s).
This is one of the components that bring about an Aha! experience. However, your character may not always make the right decision for change.
The Recognition portion of plot elements is NOT the climax. Do not confuse recognition of a problem with the climax of a story.
This is another of the major story building points. Perhaps your character still insists on pursuing what they set out to achieve, in spite of receiving great setbacks. Then finally, once they acknowledge that they need to make changes, those elements and change need to be developed.
This is the second lengthiest of the stages of writing development. Now the character must not only right the wrongs, but also forge ahead to heal the situation.
Climax: The climactic – or at least surprising - result of the action, or where the character ends up, what situation they find themselves in, embroiled or accomplished.
This is also the lesson of the story, the message or metaphor that you, the writer, hope to accomplish by writing the piece.
Thorough story planning dictates that this portion of the story should be quick, for added impetus of the realization. It brings the story to a close.
Denouement (Sometimes optional): Of the plot points, this is the lesson learned, the after-thoughts, from the character’s choices made in seeking their desire.
If the character happens not to realize his or her mistake, then it is the place where the reader will understand the result of the character’s actions, no matter how naïve or in denial the character remains.
Critical parts of a story are easiest to build in longer stories such as novellas or novels, even creative nonfiction.
The length of the story dictates how much time and verbiage can be allotted to developing the steps of the story.
In building a story through the limitations of Flash Fiction, you will see just how adept you’ve become at writing when you can incorporate all of the above plot elements in very few choice words.