How the Rising Action Works in a Story: Definition and Examples of This Dramatic Structure Element

Have you ever wondered why rising action is so important in storytelling? Why construct situations of conflict and attributes affair? Why you can’t get to the point of the narrative too quickly?

How the Rising Action Works in a Story: Definition and Examples of This Dramatic Structure Element

Note: this article contains an extract from my brand-new diary The Write Structure, which is about the obscured organizes behind bestselling and award-winning storeys. If you want to learn more about how to write a great story, you can get the book for a limited time low price. Click now to get The Write Structure ($ 2.99 ).

If you’ve ever told a good story–one that has your best friend or category on the storey chuckling, or else on the edge of their bench querying, “What happened back there ?! ”–then you know it’s important to draw out a reader’s interest.

You can do this by crafting Rising Action in your plan, and it’s essential to get this right if you want to write entertaining, informative, and passionately connecting stories.

In this article, I’m going to talk about the literary period rising action: what it is, how it works in a tale, how it’s been treated by scholars who study storey formation throughout record, and finally how you can use it to write a great story.

Let’s jump in!

Rising Action Definition The rising action in a tale moves the story toward the climax through a series of progressively more complicated affairs and decisions by the main character or people, leading up to a final decision of great significance.

In dramatic structure, it is one of the six major elements of plot, existing after the account and construct toward the climax. Some plan arrangement approaches call it the rising movement or the progressive complications.

As the source of the main conflict, it contains most of the action in a story, and is usually the longest piece.

Drastic Structure

Before we talk about how to use the rising action in your writing, let’s talk about startling structure or narrative organize in general.

Dramatic structure is an idea, originating in Aristotle’s Poetics, that effective tales can be broken down into constituents. At The Write Practice, we define six elements of dramatic organize 😛 TAGEND

Exposition Inciting Incident Rising Action/Progressive Complications Crisis Climax Denouement

When scribes are fabricating a tale they should include these six elements.

Rising action is the longest part of the story, and one of the most important parts of spectacular formation because it contains most of the action in a story.

If the exposition and motivating occurrences are the beginning of the story and the climax of the storey is the end, the rising action represents up the midriff of the storyline.

Note: You might be expecting to see descending action in this list. At The Write Practice, we don’t consider falling activity a patch element. If you’re interested in learning why, check out our article on falling war now.

How the Rising Action Works in a Story

The purpose of the rising action is to lead the character to make a difficult decision.

However, most people, including most personas, are reluctant to make decisions, especially difficult decisions.

That’s what the rising action is for, moving the specific characteristics to a point where they are forced to make a decision.

The way it does this is by putting the characters through a series of progressively more complicated episodes and choices.

In fact, Story Grid, a spectacular framework formulated by Shawn Coyne, calls the rising action “progressive complications.” Things get more and more complicated for the protagonist until they reach a turning point and they’re forced to make a decision. That object of decision-making is a crisis for the character.

And this crisis is always a option between two conflicting evaluates, whether security or sacrifice, love or obedience, rendition or righteousness.

The Rising Action Builds the Conflict Between Two Values

This, by the way, is where drama comes from: from the conflict between these two ethics and the protagonist’s final choice.

You’ve heard that floors need conflict, that conflict is what drives the scheme. But effective storeys are not driven by conflict for the sake of conflict, but conflict for the sake of choice.

In other oaths, it is the character’s decisions that drive effective narratives forward , not just the events that the specific characteristics is experiencing.

Practically speaking, how does “whos working”?

In a moment, we’ll look at several different illustrations. But first, I need to make one quick note about the different ways people talk about the rising action.

“Stories aren’t made of affairs that happen, but of selections references spawn. The purpose of rising action is to lead your character to the point where they have to make a difficult decision.Tweet this Freytag’s Rising Action vs. Modern 3-Act Story Structure

Freytag’s Pyramid is one of the most common frameworks for story structure. Formulated by Gustav Freytag in 1863, these principles, more than anything else, has determined the acces people “ve been thinking about” story organize today.

That being said, Freytag’s own understanding of plot and design differs hugely from how most writers conclude and talk about it now.

Writers today include all the same parts as Freytag. But we set them in different places, as you’ll see in the portrait below.

While this illustration isn’t perfectly to scale, if the rising action contains everything after the expo and through to the climax, then as you can see, in Freytag’s model, the rising action–which Freytag calls the rising movement–is significantly shorter than in a modern three-act story structure model.

Despite their differences, these models can overlap, and you can use both to better think through the structure of your fib. I mention this mainly to clarify the language I be utilized in the illustrations below.

Examples of Rising Action

Now let’s look at examples of the rising action, rising motion, or progressive complications in action.

As we analyze them, let’s begin with the choice each story develops toward. As I said above, the purpose of the rising action is to force a reference into a option because preferences are the source of drama.

Thus, we will work backward from that decision, showing how the rising action coerces that character into that decision.

Rising Action in Romeo and Juliet

Beginning with the crisis, how does the rising action in Romeo and Juliet work?

The climactic option/ crisis: Discontinue their lives OR stay alive in a world without the other.

Out of framework, both of those decisions are crazy. Why would a young, newlywed marry decide to separate? Even most extreme, why would two young person with so much potential from good families decide to end their lives?

These decisions are the core of the story, the climactic moments. They are too decisions no one would come to without some good reason.

The rising action provides the reason. If we begin from that alternative and labour downward, we can see how the rising action structures to that crisis.

The happenings in the rising action are 😛 TAGEND

Romeo imagines Juliet is dead. Juliet bullshits her own fatality, but the theme telling Romeo of her intention is never handed. Juliet is forced to become engaged to another man( even though she’s already married to Romeo ). Romeo is deported, and he and Juliet part tearfully. Romeo kills Tybalt, Juliet’s cousin, after Tybalt kills Mercutio, Romeo’s best friend .* Romeo and Juliet elope in secret. Romeo and Juliet meet at the two parties and fallen in love, despite the fact that their families are opponents. Exposition: Two antagonist pedigrees opposed in wall street of Verona.

* This is where Freytag marks the end of the rising movement, with the climax being Romeo and Juliet parting tearfully. Most modern three-act narration organizations would stigmatize that vistum as part of the rising action/ progressive complications.

From this perspective, the choice procreates perfect smell, and the stakes are well set up so that this choice is significantly difficult enough.

Climactic alternatives must be difficult. If they’re not, the writer hasn’t done their activity right.

Also note, the rising action deals a good deal of grind, a very large majority of the storey. Even if you resolve the rising action where Freytag does–and again, few columnists today would do that–it still submerges almost half of the play.

Let’s look at another example, this one from Ready Player One 😛 TAGEND Rising Action in Ready Player One

What is the crisis, the climactic selection that Wade Watts, A.K.A. Parzival, has to move in Ready Player One?

First, a brief summary, in case you’re not familiar with the storey. In a dystopian future, Wade Watts devotes most of his time in a virtual reality world called the OASIS. Halliday, the rich and prominent creator of the OASIS, just died, and he’s left an elaborated dilemma hidden in this virtual world to regulate who will inherit his fortune and control of the OASIS. Wade stumbles upon the first clue, then scoots tens of thousands of other hopeful puzzle-solvers to prevail the game.

The climactic selection/ crisis: Go it alone OR share the victories from video games with his friends.

The acquires, in Ready Player One, include millions of dollars, plus full administrative mastery of the OASIS. It’s everything Wade Watts have hitherto missed. Why on earth would he even be dared to share that?

The rising action holds us the answer. As with Romeo and Juliet, if we are starting from that preference and labor backward, we can see how the rising action structures to that crisis.

The contests in the rising action of Ready Player One include most of the events in the legend, from( spoiler alert !) the moment he shares the information about how to beat Joust and receive the first key with Art3mis up until( more spoilers) he pauses before participating the final quartz gate and going the chance to play to acquire Halliday’s Easter egg.

Building up to that instant, Wade experiences a personal transformation. He alters from someone who chooses, as a matter of principle, to do things alone to someone who has a few close friends–including a psuedo-girlfriend in Art3mis. Then he becomes someone who is once again alone and alienated from everyone he to be concerned about, before ultimately becoming someone who is willing to risk it all and relinquish for the sake of his friends.

As he goes through this maturation process, he learns the story of Halliday, a tragic simulation of someone who decided to alienate his friends for the purposes of the his initiation, the OASIS.

Through the rising action, in other words, the choice becomes whether Wade will become like Halliday, his hero, or learn critical lessons from Halliday and share dominance with his friends.

Can You Describe the Rising Action in This Scene From Friends?

Now that you’ve seen two examples, and before we get to our last speciman, try encounter the rising action yourself in this clip from the slam Tv picture Friends.

And make sure to check your answers at the end of this affix!

Rising Action in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

The rising action is long, containing most of the tale. I also like the word progressive complications for this section of the patch, because the rising action is not one thing, but many things which are all growing more and more complicated over time.

Let’s take a quick look at Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone to see how much of the story it can take up 😛 TAGEND

Exposition: In a macrocosm with magical, a newborn son has mysteriously overcome Voldemort, the most powerful wizard in the world, losing his mothers in the process. Professor Dumbledore leaves the babe, Harry Potter, at his uncles and aunts house to be raised, where throughout his childhood, he is bullied by his relatives, including his cousin Dudley. Incite Incident: Upon turning 11, Harry Potter, begins receiving words from an uncharted beginning, inviting him to join a boarding school for warlocks announced Hogwarts. Rising Action/Progressive Complications: Harry and the Dursleys flee to a deserted island to flee the characters. Hagrid ascertains them and gives the note, leaving with Harry the next morning so he can attend the school. They shop for school supplies in Diagon Alley. On the way to school he fills new friends and starts adversaries. When he arrives at Hogwarts, he is sorted into Gryffindor. He begins making classifies and familiarizes himself to magic and Hogwarts life. He faces off against a troll. Other escapades happen, including Christmas, and the finding that Voldemort is hunting a potent stone that awards its owner immortality. Harry assembles the quidditch squad and is almost killed during a parallel, they speculate by Professor Snape, who they believe is out to get the stone for Voldemort. More shenanigans as they track down the stone. Dilemma: Break into the secret hiding labyrinth protecting the sorcerer’s stone and gamble detonation or even death OR do nothing but risk Voldemort returning when he captures the stone. Climax: Harry and his friends make their way through the labyrinth and face off against Voldemort and his accomplice. Denouement: Harry and his friends exist and are status in front of the whole school.

As you can see, the rising action contains most of the story.

The Rising Action Belongs In Each Number and Each Scene, Too

Your story needs rising action, but so does every routine and even every scene.

That signifies in the average novel, movie or screenplay–which has fifty to seventy scenes–you should have fifty to seventy rising actions and fifty to seventy climactic choices.

Why so many?

Because this is the heart of theatre: complications generating conflict between prices resulting in a option. If you don’t have progressively more difficult complications and if you don’t have progressively more significant picks, you don’t have a story.

So figure out the choices your references it is necessary manufacture, and then build to them use the rising action.

Key Ideas About the Rising Action

The rising action moves the plot toward the climax. It does this by building the action with a series of progressive complications, or occasions that create conflict by preventing a attribute from readily attaining their scene or tale crave/ point. As the causes of the prime conflict, the rising action contains most of the action in a storey, and is usually the longest piece. The purpose of the rising action is to lead the character to make a difficult decision. Effective narrations are not driven by conflict for the sake of conflict, but driven by conflict for the sake of forcing a selection. The hand-picked should be between two importances. Your floor and every representation in it needs a rising action.

Rising Action in the Scene Where Ross Finds Out Rachel Likes Him in Friends

Did you determine the rising action in the occurrence where Ross learns out Rachel likes him? Here’s what I insure 😛 TAGEND

Exposition: Ross comes over to the apartment. Incite Incident: Ross queries about Rachel’s time. Rising Action/Progressive Complications: Ross and Rachel chat about Rachel’s poor date. Rachel can’t relatively introduced her digit on a discussion she sees she had with Ross. Ross expects Rachel if he can check his words. Rachel recollects calling Ross the previous darknes. Dilemma: Confess to Ross about liking him OR feign like the sense isn’t a big deal. Climax: Rachel( embarrassed) and Ross( shocked) go back and forth on when they liked each other. Ross doesn’t know what to construct of this since he’s with Julie now. Denouement: Ross leaves to get a cat with Julie, but he’s frazzled. Rachel is left alone and frustrated.

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What is an example of rising action in a movie or romance that you peculiarly like? Let us know in the comments.


Let’s placed the concept of rising action to use with a creative writing exercise. Here’s what I want you to do:

List five possible complications based on the following climactic pick 😛 TAGEND

Love OR money

After listing your complications expending that alternative, use one of them as a creative writing prompt to write a brand-new scene.

For instance, I might write this for a complication: “A rich woman tumbles in love with a poor man.” Then I might write a scene in which she’s torn between her status and her love.

What other complications can you imagine? What representation will you choose to write?

Write for fifteen minutes. When your time is up, announce your tradition in the comments region. And if you post, be sure to give feedback to at least three other writers.

Happy writing!

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