Plot development is often compared to climbing a mountain or riding a roller coaster. Students really relate to the roller coaster analogy. Here is how it works:
The Plot Development Roller Coaster
When you first get on the roller coaster a voice over a loudspeaker 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.
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 of 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.
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.
This anchor chart may be printed in 20 by 30-inch poster size, or standard printing size 8.5 by 11 inch for individual use.
Using Animated Shorts to Teach Plot Development
Have students practice creating a plot development roller coaster diagram by using the plot of animated shorts. They are extremely making them ideal for a quick lesson. The handout contains links to 2 fun films that work well for this purpose. Both printable and Google Slide organizers are provided in the link below.
Sequencing Story Parts by Plot Development
Both printable and digital versions are provided for this activity.
Print the cards and the roller coaster plot diagram. Have students cut out the cards and glue them in the correct order on the roller coaster plot diagram.
Students drag the story parts to the correct locations on the Roller Coaster Plot Diagram.