The Aristotelian Plot Structure


Students will be able to identify and explain the Aristotelian plot structure by performing a scene which is missing a plot element.



Texts: The Aristotelian Plot Structure
Literacies: Accessing the plot structure through storytelling and performance.



• 5 Fairytales written on slips of paper

Lesson 3.Plot Structure Sheet


HOOK (3 mins)

Have the students in groups of three (at their tables) answer this question: “What makes a good story?” (What does a story need to be “good”? Not just what do you like in stories) While there are many possible answers, each group should choose just one. Give the students 60 seconds to decide on their answer and have them write it down. Each table will share their answer and we will write these on the board.


STEP 1: Instruction/Modeling (10 mins)

These are all great answers. The Greeks asked themselves the same question of “What makes a good story?” There was on Greek in particular named Aristotle who answered the question. Aristotle was a philosopher who loved theatre and thought it was very important for society. He came up with a specific structure for what a good play should look like. Draw the Aristotelian model on the board. Explain the following 5 plot elements in terms of “Little Red Riding Hood” and label them on the model. Have the students take out a piece of paper for notes and do the same.
• Exposition: the background; information we need to know about what happens before the story begins.
• Inciting Incident: The moment that starts the action.
• Rising Action: What happens after the inciting incident leading towards the climax.
• Climax: The point at which the main character in the story will succeed or fail.
• Falling Action/denouement: The consequences of the outcome of the climax. Ties things up neatly and ends the story.


STEP 2: Transition

So this is the model the Greeks came up with and used. Compare our list to Aristotle’s. Do we still use these criteria when we create stories? Think of your favorite play, movie or story. Does it have an exposition? Inciting incident? Etc.



1) Break the students into groups of 5 (7 students each) and have them pick a random fairytale out of a hat. They are to act out the fairy tale in 2 minutes or less.
2) Students need to take out a piece of paper as a group and write down the 5 elements and describe briefly what each part is in their particular fairy tale. Give them 3 minutes to prepare.
3) Now assign each group a particular plot element and tell them that they must prepare their scene to be performed without that element.
4) Give the students 10 minutes to prepare.
5) Students will perform their fairytales. (1-2-3 ACTION!)
6) After each scene ask 1 student to identify the missing element, then (like the Greeks) put it up to a vote. If there is dissention or disagreement, resolve until all are in agreement, then move on to the next scene.
7) Students will turn in the piece of paper where they identified the different parts of their story after they perform and will be graded on its completion. 15 points
8) Students will be graded on their performance in 3 categories:
a. Time limit (between 1-3 minutes) 5 points
b. Participations (all students actively involved) 5 points
c. Plot element (assigned plot element is clearly missing) 5 points


NOTE: This may carry over into the next lesson in order to finish. Adjust future lessons accordingly.