Unit 1
Expository Writing
Plot Analysis
Plot Analysis
What is a plot analysis?
• A plot analysis takes a story apart and examines it
piece by piece in order to discover what makes it
work.
• An analysis considers how plot elements—
including exposition, rising action, climax, falling
action, and resolution—work together to create a
good story.
• A plot analysis is a way to interpret the story to
gain a deeper understanding of both content and
form.
Plot Analysis
Assignment
• Choose a story from this unit and write a plot
analysis, using the three-part process – prewriting,
drafting, and revising
Purpose
• To provide insight into how and why the elements
of plot work in a specific story
Audience
• Your teacher and classmates; people who have
read the story
Writing Rubric
A successful plot analysis:
 states the title, author, and brief summary of the story in
the introduction
 presents a clear thesis statement expressing the main
idea of the analysis
 develops body paragraphs that support the thesis,
identify what happens in each element of the plot, and
cite details and brief quotations from the story
 concludes by summarizing the analysis and restating the
thesis
 is written in complete sentences
➊ PREWRITE
Select Your Topic
• Choose a story from this unit to analyze.
• Select one that was most compelling for you to
read and that interests you most.
➊ PREWRITE
Gather Information
• Reread the story you have chosen to analyze.
Identify what happens in each stage.
—Note that plot elements will vary in order and
importance depending on the story.
• Jot down events in a Plot Diagram like the one
below.
Climax
Rising Action
Exposition
Falling Action
Resolution
➊ PREWRITE
Gather Information
• Note any important details that may affect the
development of the conflict or resolution.
• Copy quotations you may want to refer to in your
essay.
• Use a Plot Element Chart to write down the
information you have gathered. On the next slide,
you will practice filling out a Plot Element Chart
as a class.
Plot Element Chart
Title:
Story Details
Exposition
Inciting
Incident
Rising Action
Climax
Falling Action
Resolution
Dénouement
Thesis Idea:
Significance/
Ideas
Quotations
➊ PREWRITE
Organize Your Ideas
• Once you isolate and examine the plot elements,
you can look at the story analytically to see how it
works and to gain insight into the plot.
• To focus your ideas, review your Plot Element
Chart and ask yourself these questions:
—What is the author’s most impressive accomplishment
in the story?
—What plot feature offers surprise, shock, or emotional
depth?
—What plot device creates the turning point in the story?
➊ PREWRITE
Organize Your Ideas
• Create an organizational plan for your essay using
your Plot Element Chart.
• Number or list the plot elements in the order they
logically appear—the same order they appeared in
the story.

• Highlight information that is important and relevant
to your analysis.
• Cross out irrelevant, unnecessary information.
➊ PREWRITE
Write Your Thesis Statement
• Examine your notes and write a statement
capturing the main point of your plot analysis. This
is your thesis statement.
• One student wrote this thesis statement about the
plot of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Masque of the Red
Death”:
The sad story turns to horror because of
Prospero’s vain belief that he can escape the
fate of the Red Death.
Edgar Allan Poe used long and short
sentences in “The Masque of the Red
Death.” Notice the example below:
But the Prince Prospero was happy and dauntless
and sagacious. When his dominions were half
depopulated, he summoned to his presence a
thousand hale and light-hearted friends from among
the knights and dames of his court, and with these
retired to the deep seclusion of one of his castellated
abbeys.
➋ DRAFT
Write your essay by following this three-part
framework:
Introduction
Body
Conclusion
➋ DRAFT
Introduction
• Provide the title, author, and a summary of the story.
• Include the thesis statement of your analysis.
Body
• Write an in-depth analysis by expanding on the thesis.
• Include details and quotations from the story to illustrate
your points about the plot elements.
Conclusion
• Rephrase the thesis statement, summarize the analysis, and
give the essay a sense of closure.
➋ DRAFT
Draft Your Introduction
• In a plot analysis, the introduction identifies the
author and title of the story and briefly summarizes
its plot or theme.
• The introduction also states the thesis, establishing
the main idea of the analysis.
• Finally, a good introduction creates
interest, drawing readers into the
rest of the essay.
➋ DRAFT
Draft Your Body
• In the body, write about plot elements in the order
they occur in the story.
— Start with exposition and end with dénouement.
• State each point you want to make, and support it
with evidence.
—Include details, ideas, and brief quotations from the
text.
• Every detail should relate to the main point you
make about the plot in your thesis statement.
➋ DRAFT
Draft Your Conclusion
• Finally, write a good conclusion that
—restates the thesis
—summarizes the analysis
—provides closure to the essay
—and gives your readers insight.
• You might try one of these strategies:
—describe your response to the plot
—compare the plot to that of a modern-day story
—or link the plot structure with one character’s
development.
➌ REVISE
Evaluate Your Draft
• Evaluate your own writing or exchange papers
with a classmate.
• Examine the content and organization.
—The introduction, body, and
conclusion should work together
to prove the thesis.
• Ensure that every paragraph
relates clearly to the main idea
of the paper.
➌ REVISE
Evaluate Your Draft
• Read the paper a second time to check for spelling
and grammatical errors.
• Think about how the writing can be made more
clear and interesting by replacing general words
with more specific ones.
• Make notes directly on the paper about its
strengths and weaknesses and the changes that
need to be made.
DRAFT STAGE
Introduction
The “Masque of the Red Death” by
Edgar Allan Poe is a chilling story.
The story is about the attempts of
Prince Prospero and his friends to
escape the Red Death. The Red Death
is a plague. Poe combines all the
elements of plot to build a horror
story full of horror from beginning to
end. It’s horror because of Prospero’s
vain belief that he can escape the fate
of the Red Death.
Identifies title and author; briefly
summarizes story
Identifies aspect to be analyzed
States thesis
REVISE STAGE
Introduction
“The Masque of the Red Death” by
Edgar Allan Poe is a chilling story.
The story is about the attempts of
Prince Prospero and his friends to
escape the Red Death, The Red Death
is a “fatal” and “hideous” plague that
is sweeping the land. Poe combines
all the elements of plot to build a
horror story full of horror from
beginning to end. In fact, the sad
story turns to horror because of
Prospero’s vain belief that he can
escape the fate of the Red Death.
Combines sentences
Adds defining details
Avoids unnecessary repetition of
words; develops thesis
DRAFT STAGE
Body Paragraph
Readers learn that the Red Death
leaves victims dizzy and bleeding.
With red stains all over the face and
body. Then we meet the main
character, Prince Prospero. The
inciting incident introduces the
central conflict. Prince Prospero
attempts to escape the Red Death. To
do so, he takes one thousand friends.
They go into a sealed abbey. They
hide away, in “defiance to
contagion.”
Starts analysis with the
beginning of the story
Refers to plot elements
Uses a quotation from
the text
REVISE STAGE
Body Paragraph
The exposition sets a frightening
mood. Readers learn that the Red
Death leaves victims dizzy and
bleeding, with red stains all over the
face and body. Then we meet the
main character, Prince Prospero. He
is “happy and dauntless,” in spite of
the plague. The inciting incident
introduces the central conflict, Prince
Prospero’s desperate attempts to
escape the Red Death. To do so, he
takes one thousand friends They go
into a sealed abbey. They hide away,
in “defiance to contagion.”
Includes all plot elements
Fixes sentence fragment
Adds details and quotations
Effectively combines sentences
to improve quality of writing.
DRAFT STAGE
Conclusion
The Prince and his guests, after trying
so hard to escape death, are overcome
by it right there in there hiding place.
The party chamber Prince Prospero
meant to keep them all safe became a
tomb. Edgar Allan Poe combines all
of the plot elements to make this
horror story work.
Brings discussion to
end of story
Summarizes analysis
REVISE STAGE
Conclusion
It’s ironic that the Prince and his
guests, after trying so hard to escape
death, are overcome by it right there
in their hiding place. The party
chamber Prince Prospero meant to
keep them all safe became a tomb.
Edgar Allan Poe combines all of the
plot elements to make this horror
story work.
Uses analytical language;
corrects word usage;
combines sentences to
strengthen the connection
Edgar Allan Poe (1809 – 1849)
paid as much attention to
grammar as to plot. He says:
“The writer who neglects punctuation, or
mispunctuates, is liable to be misunderstood. ... For
the want of merely a comma, it often occurs that an
axiom appears a paradox, or that a sarcasm is
converted into a sermonoid.”
➌ REVISE
Delivering a Peer Review
• Be focused.
—Concentrate on content, organization, and style.
—Leave spelling and punctuation for the proofreading
stage.
• Be positive.
—Respect the writer’s feelings and genuine writing
efforts.
• Be specific.
—Give the writer concrete ideas
for improving his or her work.
➌ REVISE
Receiving a Peer Review
• Be specific.
—Tell the reviewer your concerns about the paper.
• Ask questions.
—Make sure you understand the reviewer’s comments.
• Be selective.
—Accept suggestions graciously, but don’t feel you have
to use all—or any—of them.
• Use the Revisions Checklist on the next three
slides to help guide you through your peer reviews.
REVISION CHECKLIST
Content and Organization
Are the story’s title, author, and brief summary
stated in the introduction?
Does the thesis statement make an important
analytical point about the plot?
In the body, are the elements of plot arranged in
a logical order?
REVISION CHECKLIST
Content and Organization
What additional evidence is used to support
each plot element?
Does the conclusion summarize the analysis,
restate the thesis, and provide closure?
Are all sentences effective?
REVISION CHECKLIST
Grammar and Style
Do all subjects and verbs agree?
Does the writer use parallel structure?
Do all pronouns agree with their antecedents?
Are sentences varied in length and structure to
add interest?
Does the writer use commas correctly?
➌ REVISE
Proofread for Errors
• Read through your essay again to check for any
remaining errors.
• Use proofreader’s symbols to mark any errors you
find.
• Print out a final draft and read the entire essay
once more before turning it in.
Student Model
Review the Student Model final draft on page
211 of your textbook and answer the questions
that appear in red in the margin.
WRITING FOLLOW-UP
Publish and Present
• In small groups, share your plot analyses.
—Pay attention to what you learn from other students’
plot analyses as well as to how they respond to yours.
• Submit your essay to a school or community
literary magazine, newsletter, journal, or
newspaper.
WRITING FOLLOW-UP
Reflect
• What did you discover by reading the short story a
second and third time?
—What did you miss during the first reading?
—What is the value of rereading?
• What did you learn from your classmates’
reactions to the same story?
—What is the value of discussing literature?
—How does insightful conversation help you become a
better writer?