In Articles, Writers' Academy


Plot development refers to the main events of a story, play or any similar work and how the writer presents them in relation to one another so that they follow an exciting sequence. The plot develops out of the relationship between action and reaction, cause and effect.

The plot of a story can be divided into 3 main parts:


This is the introduction where we are introduced to main characters, theme, setting, location and key issues of the story. This is where you give a hint of what your story is about. The exposition should leave the reader wanting to know more and therefore eager to read the rest of your story.


This part is all about an increase in action as complications arise or a decrease in complications as the plot unfolds. We take a deeper look into cause and effect, character growth and theme development. In short, this is where the bulk of the story happens.


In this part, tensions are resolved and main questions answered, therefore, the story concludes. Unless you’re writing a series of course (love a good series) but either way at the end you resolve something or give us a cliffhanger to keep us eager for the next book.


Each stage of your story should help the reader understand the overall theme more. Each stage should contribute something to building the whole story.


A linear structure consists of events that lead to effects while non-linear shows the effects before the cause e.g. in a linear plot your protagonist Rudo leaves home to visit her fiancé and finds him cheating then goes back home and cries. In a non-linear plot, however, we might see Amara crying first then jump back to the cause of her misery. Presenting events out of chronological order will create a much stronger storyline when your narrative finally catches up with later events.

Read: Expressive Writing: Using Your Personal Voice


Character actions and conversation should move your plot along. In Chimamanda’s Americanah, the author tells us about the issue of racism. Right from the start, we see the protagonist having to travel to another town entirely just to find a saloon to braid her African locks. As you develop your story use simple actions such as your character’s manner of speaking, emotional standing to develop your plot.


Most stories boil down to the main event but you’ll find most of the development of the characters happens in subplots. Introduce secondary characters who will add to the mystery of the story and boost the authenticity of your story.  Subplots are good for raising tension before reaching the main arch of your story.


Plot drafts have been a huge help in my writing. You can plot chapter by chapter as a draft just to see the themes you want to explore and how it will all flow in the end. The best part is you can reorder your chapters too until it all fits.


Share your work with other writers for feedback. I think we can all agree on this point.  Sounds like a lot of work right? But after you produce that quality work it will all be worth it.

By Kimberly Chirodzero,


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