Summer Writing Club: Plot

Welcome to Week 3 of Summer Writing Club! By now you should have a good idea of who your characters are, what it is they most want, and what obstacles stand in their way. Your story may be moving along nicely (awesome!) or perhaps you’ve run out of steam (don’t give up yet!). This week’s tutorial will help you keep moving—or get you back on track.

Every story, whether it’s a romance, sci-fi thriller, or picture book, has a beginning, a middle, and an end. By plotting out the sequence of events in your story, you can create a Story Map to guide you from start to finish.

Storybird Story Mapping worksheet

A good rule of thumb when you’re writing fiction is to think about your story in three acts, kind of like a play or a movie.

Act 1: The Beginning/Setting the Stage
At the beginning, you’ll introduce the main character, or characters, and give a little backstory. (Read more about backstory here.) You will also need to set the stage: does your story take place in the past, present, or future? Is it an imaginary world or the one we live in? Will there be magic involved, do people have special powers or do real world rules apply?

Act 2: The Middle/Rising Action
After you’ve gotten the reader oriented, there is typically some sort of conflict that sets off a chain of events and starts the action moving. Think of this part of your story map as a mountain rising out of the ground. With every event that takes place in your story, the tension builds, bringing you closer to the peak, or climax, of your story.

Act 3: The End/The Climax and Falling Action
In every story there’s a turning point. The action builds and the conflict intensifies, and then you reach a deciding moment that changes everything. You’ve reached the top of your mountain, and everything that follows is what’s called Falling Action. This is where you win the battle and send everyone home. Characters who have been on a journey return. Captured prisoners are released. Long-lost family members are reunited and everyone lives happily ever after.

A good story takes the time to resolve conflict and tie up loose ends. The main character should have learned something along the way and grown as a person. Hopefully, he or she sees the world with new perspective at the end of the adventure—and your reader does, too!

You can learn more about story mapping in this writing workshop video. Click below to watch, and fill out your own Story Map to become a plot master.

Getting a late start? No worries! There’s still time to submit your story (due July 25th) and you can find previous Summer Writing Club posts here.


Due to the overwhelming popularity of this Challenge, we have updated the rules to to give as many people as possible a chance to enter:

  • We will not accept previously written stories—except those from the backstory Challenge.
  • We are now only allowing one story per person to be entered. Make it your best!

1. Theme of the month: Your choice! - This week, continue your story by adding another Chapter. Please remember to follow our community guidelines and do not include identifying information in your book (last names, your town, or your school). The maximum wordcount for your novelette is 5,000 words.

To be eligible for inclusion in the monthly roundup, you must submit a story with at least two finished chapters to the Challenge by July 25, 2016.

2. Choose your artwork – Browse our library of images to find the artwork that inspires you. Select an artist to be your illustrator, or search for a keyword to use multiple images.

3. Submit - When you have finished your chapter, select “Summer Writing Club July Challenge: Novelette” on the book details page before you submit to moderation.

4. Eligibility Any Storybird member can participate in Summer Writing Club. You join simply by participating each week. Paid membership is not required (but it will allow you to display your beautiful badges, receive printable certificates for each challenge, and get lots of other perks.) Click here to receive a discount for new and existing members. Ends soon!

You must have a Regular account for your story to appear in the public library and to be featured on our blog. Stories published from Student accounts are only visible to members of your class.

The Badge for this month’s Challenge is:

Do the Challenge

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