Moving at the Speed of Creativity by Wesley Fryer

Digital Storytelling and Writing with the Story Arc and Freytag’s pyramid

Many good stories, whether we read them in books, hear other people tell them, or watch them in movies use the “story arc” or “dramatic structure.” This is a photo I snapped last week in Holland, Michigan, of a story arc drawing a teacher was using.


Freytag’s pyramid is a five part model also referred to as “dramatic arc: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and dénouement.”

Freytag's pyramid

This is a another version of Freytag’s pyramid but is called a “story arc” on the website Crafting Fiction to describe typical plot development in the Stargate SG1 series.

story arc

This image is also on the website, “Learn the Elements of a Novel.” I’m not sure who the original artist / author / owner of this image is. That website also includes a good description of “Basic Three Act Structure” with the setup, confrontation and resolution phases. The blog “Digital Worlds – Interactive Media and Game Design” has a good post from 2008 on “Story Arcs, and the Three Act Structure.”

What online resources do you use, or other resources, with students to discuss story arcs and Freytag’s pyramid?

My favorite example to use for this writing and storytelling method is Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. All the action and plot elements lead up to the climatic battle on the Death Star, when eventually it is destroyed by Luke Skywalker. What’s your favorite literary or theatrical example of the story arc to discuss with students?

Death Star!
Creative Commons License photo credit: xoque

It’s important to understand the story arc and dramatic structure, not only to better understand books and movies but also to write and create our own.

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2 responses to “Digital Storytelling and Writing with the Story Arc and Freytag’s pyramid”

  1. Leigh Setser Avatar
    Leigh Setser

    Hi there again Mr. Fryer. I commented on your post Smartphone Activations, iPad Sales and Vision for Transformed Learning for an assignment for my EDM 310 class with Dr. Strange and I am also going to comment on this post! I really enjoyed this post. It brought back memories of elementary school because I remember my teachers doing these different story arc’s with my classroom. I also found that they were very helpful and I understood the parts of the story best this way. It is a great tool for teachers to use and I plan to use it when I am a teacher one day! Thanks for sharing!! Check out my blog!