Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Freytag's Pyramid

In 1863, German novelist and literature professor, Gustav Freytag, studied classic Greek drama trying to identify what made a good, entertaining play. The result of his analysis is called Freytag’s Pyramid, or the Dramatic Structure.

According to Freytag, a drama is divided into five parts, or acts. This structure is also called a dramatic arc. The five parts are exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution.

A Freytag’s Pyramid is the first exercise I use to develop the backbone of my plot. The focus of the exercise is to define the events in the story which build suspense, leading to the climax. The events are dire3ctly t5ied to the conflicts defined in the last blog post’s exercise.

I start with three questions used by Susan Warren Utley of Haunted Waters Press.

1. What does the main character want?

2. How does he/she get it?

3. Why do we care?

Then I fill out the pyramid with successive dramatic events.

Exposition: Start of the story, situation before action starts.

Rising Action: Series of conflicts and crises leading to climax. A typical novel repeats this step at least three times.

Climax: Turning Point, the most intense moment of the story.

Falling Action: Everything that happens following the climax.

Resolution: Conclusion where all things come together. At this point all conflicts should be resolved.
In my next post I will look at Well’s 8-point story arc.

All of the brainstorming exercises described in this blog series can be found in my Scrivener template on Google Drive at
For non-scrivener users, Personal Noveling Assistant (PNA) pages are at

For more about my stories, check out my author page at

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