Elements of the Plot: Part 1

Last updated: May 31, 2017 at 22:42 pm

plot photoIn teaching short stories to students of English, I often use the theme of aliens. Why? Because its a popular subject, and one that is perhaps on the mind of almost all humans.

Do aliens exist? After all, those countless stars out there are supposed to be suns, each with planets revolving around them. And with billions and billions of solar systems in an infinite universe, what are the chances that we are alone?

I recently gave my students the task of writing a short story entitled “My First Encounter with an Alien”. That is a simplified version of the more scientific sounding “Close Encounter of the Fifth Kind”.

Indeed, what would happen if you were to meet an alien personally, on a one-on-one situation? Would it be a positive experience? Would it be negative? What really would happen. The short story title “My First Encounter With an Alien” beats a path to infinite imagination.

Since high school, I have been deeply fascinated with the thought of aliens, of whether they were out there, of meeting them and what would happen if I really did meet them. I’ve been always good at writing short stories which are pervaded by the theme of aliens.

In teaching the elements of the plot to my Grade Eight students of English, I created the following short story as an example, literally, in two periods “out of the blue”.

As you may know, the plot is an element of the short story. But the plot itself contains other elements.

These are the elements of the plot:

Exposition – creating the atmosphere, introducing the characters and describing the setting.

Rising Action – The problem or conflict begins.

Climax – The conflict has peaked. Things can’t get any worse, and the reader has an idea of what the outcome would be like.

Falling Action – The problem is being solved and the story is about to be resolved.

Resolution: The end of the story. This is just one or two lines explaining the final outcome of the story.

My First Encounter With An Alien: A Ride Into Space

Exposition Begins
It was a cool summer night in Los Angeles as I lay in my bed, staring out of my window at the “twinkling stars above”. I wondered what mystery they hold. I had learned in science class that all those stars are actually suns, much bigger than our sun, and that each one has its planets revolving around it. How beautiful might some of these planets be! And how advanced might their technology be! Exposition Ends

Rising Action Begins

I was about to drift into sleep when I heard a buzzing sound. My eyes flashed open. I looked at the window in front of me. What caught my eyes left me exasperated. I was speechless with fright. It was hard to describe the mechanism that was before my eyes, but it was a small craft, about the size of a car, made of a metal base and transparent glass.

Inside of it was a creature unlike anything I had seen in my life. I tried to scream but no sound left my mouth. I tried to run, but my feet seem glued to the spot. I was unable to move a muscle. Just then, as if by magic, my window flew open. Then the window of the alien space craft flew open. I came face to face with this horrendous being. Its eyes were the size of a baseball. Its red hair floated upward. Then he smiled, showing small green teeth. My heart was pounding to the point of bursting. I thought I was going to pass out. Rising Action Ends

Climax Begins

Then the alien opened its mouth and spoke softly “relax Cupertino, I just want to take you for a ride into outer space”. Climax Ends

Falling Action Begins

For the first time minutes, I was able to breathe. When I caught my breath, I wondered “How did it know that it had always been my dream to fly into outer space?”

Without a second thought, I hopped aboard the spacecraft. We flew past the the high buildings of Los Angeles, out past the clouds and further up, up. As we soared past the highest skies, I could see the earth as a tiny ball suspended by nothing, as if by magic, just hanging on thin fair. We whizzed past the moon, then the red planet Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.

Very soon, we were in another galaxy. The adventures I experienced on these planets are too numerous to mention in this short story, and they will revealed in a future account, but to say the least, they were nothing short of marvelous.

I met beautiful aliens from other planets who looked just like humans. They had flying cars and talking robots.

In the space of one hour, my alien friend had returned me to my room. I climbed back into my room, my heart filled with glee and my mind filled with wonder, unable to sleep for the rest of the night. Falling Action Ends

Resolution Begins

Will anyone believe my story? It is not half as important as what I learned during that thrilling one-hour adventure into outer space. Resolution Ends, and so does story.

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