The Plot Development Roller Coaster

Plot Development

Teaching students to describe the plot of a book or story can be compared to a roller coaster.


Here is how it works:


When you first get on the roller coaster a voice over a loud speaker gives background information such as when the coaster was built, how long the ride will last, or how high or fast you will be traveling. The exposition also gives background information. It is the introduction of the story. The exposition contains the setting and introduces the main characters. Readers need this information to understand a story.

Rising Action

The next part of the ride is the big hill. No matter which type of coaster you are riding this is the longest part of the ride. Your excitement builds as you slowly climb. The long climb of the coaster may be compared to the rising action of the story. In the rising action, a series of events takes place which builds the excitement of the story.


The top of the big hill on the roller coaster may be compared to the story’s climax. This is the most exciting part in both the coaster ride and the story. No looking back, the action must move forward. You are full of suspense about what is about to take place.

Falling Action

The downhill race in which the coaster may fly around sharp corners, flip upside down while passing through corkscrew turns, or bounce over a series of hills is the fast-paced action part of the ride. The same is true of a story’s falling action. During the falling action, the characters begin to solve the conflict. Exciting action fills the pages.


Finally the roller coaster ride has come to the end. As riders get off, they talk about the experience. The resolution is the end of the story or how everything winds up. A reader will discover if the protagonist gets what s/he wanted or not. Just like the roller coaster ride may change a person, the experiences the characters go through in the book change them as well. During the resolution, the reader sees just how the characters have changed.

Download this free Plot Development Anchor Chart.

Plot Development Anchor Chart

Additional Resources

If you are looking for additional resources, you might like to take a look at “Plot Development.” This resource contains mini posters, foldable graphic organizers, and activities to help teach about plot development.

Plot Development Unit at Teachers Pay Teachers

Plot Development Unit

Gay Miller


Permanent link to this article: