Bonnie Waltz, Deanna Mayers, Tracy Rains
English Language Arts
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
High School
9, 10, 11, 12
  • Analyzing Fiction
  • Antagonist
  • Anti-Hero
  • External Conflict
  • Internal Conflict
  • Iowa K-12 E-Curriculukm
  • Protagonist
  • Resolution
  • iowa-k-12-e-curriculukm
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial
    Media Formats:
    Downloadable docs, Interactive, Text/HTML, Video

    Education Standards

    Plots: Grasping Freytag’s Pyramid

    Plots: Grasping Freytag’s Pyramid


    This seminar focuses on the standard plot line. More than just a beginning, middle, and end, plot lines follow an arc with identifiable actions along the way. In short stories, plays, novels, movies, etc., the Freytag Pyramid structure is recognizable. Throughout this seminar, you will use prior knowledge of plot lines to connect to new reading, along with creating your own plot line with identifiable parts.



    Introductory warm-up activity.

    Watch this short video about plots. Jot down important terms that you recognize and make a separate list for terms that seem new.


    In this section it would be worthwhile to READ, WATCH and DO for a better understanding.


    Read this informational sheet to re-familiarize yourself with basic parts of any story but especially the essential parts of a standard plot line, also called Freytag’s Pyramid.

    Watch this informational video about the specific parts of a plot and how they can be identified in a familiar story (Aladdin). Similar to the Engage video of this seminar, this one breaks down the essential parts; however, this also applies those parts to a classic Disney story.

    Find a model of Freytag’s pyramid online, such as this one. Based on that model, draw a standard plot line, including all of its essential parts. Label them accordingly. Then select a story you’ve read (or a movie you’ve watched, as long as it’s fictional) and write down the details from the story that correlate with the various parts of the plot.



    Discuss your ideas / opinions / understandings.


    Read “The Story of An Hour” by Kate Chopin. It involves a woman who is greeted with sad news; however, the reader soon learns that the news might actually be good news for the woman. Discuss the story with someone else (classmate, friend, teacher, brother or sister, etc.). In your discussion, be sure to identify the essential parts of the plot. You might even decide to draw the plot line (Freytag’s Pyramid) and then label the parts to show your understanding visually.


    Now it is time to self check how much you have learned about the Freytag’s Pyramid.  If you do not know as much as you thought, go back to the “Explore” section of this seminar and reread, rewatch, or redo the activities listed. See your facilitator if you have questions.

    Click here to take the quiz online. You do not have to log into the quiz site in order to take this quiz. If a window pops up asking you to sign up for the quiz site, just close the sign-up window and start your quiz.


    This is a task or project where you can show what you know.


    Create your own comic strip (electronically or on paper) based on an original story. The comic strip should include at least eight panels (frames/boxes) that reveal a typical plot line. As you draw and write the words, consider the essential parts of a plot and be sure the action taking place, including those images and words, aligns with Freytag’s pyramid. Like any good story, your comic should begin with an exposition and conclude with resolution or denouement. Label the parts of the plot in the margins of the comic strip. Where possible, include an indication if this part of the plot impacts character development, plot development, or theme development.  If you need a template, here is a simple one to use.


    Complete this wrap-up activity where you reflect on your learning.  

    Most readers learn about Freytag’s Pyramid in elementary school and then revisit it throughout the years. Reflect on the idea of learning about a standard plot line more than once. What makes more sense now? Why is it beneficial to revisit the concept? Which part of the plot is most difficult to understand or apply to a story? What are you most confident about in regards to plot lines? Why?