How to Write Stories-Step 3: Plan the Plot

Step by step writing guide. Free Step 3- plan the plot worksheet.

This is Step 3 of my Seven Steps to Story Success – A step-by-step guide to teaching children how to write stories. In this step -planning the plot, children will visually render the main parts of their story. Accompanying worksheet can be found towards the bottom, available to download and print.

If you missed the previous steps you can catchup here:

Step 3-Planning the Plot

Planning again?

Didn’t we just do a story plan in step 2?

Yes and no!

In the previous step of planning the nitty gritty, children was a deep dive into the critical elements of their story. In Step 3, Planning the Plot, children will visually render the main parts of their story. This step of the planning is a summary to all of the simmering of ideas that took place in the previous step. This ensures that there is always a clear and simple plan to fall back on, and no one will suffer from writer’s block because the main story events have been identified.

Accompanying story planning activity page can be found towards the bottom, available to download and print.

Why bother to write a plan for the plot?

Planning the plot gives a clear structure for the story and makes it easier for kids to stay on track.

Planning the plot creates structure for the story and helps to ensure that the story flows logically and coherently from beginning to end, making it easier for readers to follow and understand. It also helps children have a clear direction and focus for the story, making it easier for them to stay on track and avoid getting lost in unnecessary details.

Planning the plot can help ensure characters’ actions make sense in the context of the plot.

Strong believable characters are key to a good story, and planning the plot can also help with character development. By knowing the overall arc of the story, children can check that the characters’ actions and motivations are consistent and make sense within the context of the plot.

Planning the plot prevents having writers block.

Planning the plot before writing can help to avoid writer’s block by providing a roadmap for the story. When children have a clear plan for the plot, they can focus on the writing itself without getting stuck on what should happen next.

Planning the plot makes editing and revising easier.

A well-planned plot can make the editing and revision process easier as you and the child can review all the necessary story elements are included and that the pacing is consistent throughout the story before the writing even begins.

What to include when planning the plot?

When children are writing their first few stories, I wouldn’t get to hung up on getting them to do a perfect plot structure with all of the textbook elements of the inciting incident, the rising action, the climax, the falling action, and the resolution.

Until they get comfortable and confident writing stories, it is ok to just make a plan which is a sequence of events where the character has achieved something or overcome a problem.

When planning a plot, there are generally five elements that should be considered in order to create a cohesive story:

  1. The inciting incident: This is the event or situation that sets the story in motion and creates the initial conflict that the main character/ protagonist will face.
  2. The rising action: This is the series of events that follow the inciting incident and lead up to the climax of the story. The rising action should build tension and increase the stakes for the protagonist.
  3. The climax: This is the point in the story where the conflict comes to a head and the protagonist faces their greatest challenge.
  4. The falling action: This is the series of events that follow the climax and lead to the resolution of the story. The falling action should wrap up loose ends and tie up any remaining plot threads.
  5. The resolution: This is the conclusion of the story, where the conflict is resolved and the protagonist achieves their goal or learns a lesson.

How to teach the elements of a story plot?

I think one of the best ways to get students to understand what the elements of a story plot are, is to read and discuss short stories together. Choose a story or book to read and use it as a springboard for discussing the elements of plot. Ideally this should be done before embarking on the story writing process, but you could also use stories that all kids are familiar with, e.g. traditional tales, or stories that you both have read and just analyse a couple of those stories without going too deep into the analysis.

I have some examples of elements of the plot of a couple of fairy tales and one of my favourite children’s book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, so that you can see examples in practice.

Plot elements of Little Red Riding Hood

The plot of Little Red Riding Hood has many different versions, however, the basic plot elements typically include:

  1. The inciting incident: Little Red Riding Hood’s mother sends her on a journey through the woods to deliver food to her sick grandmother.
  2. The rising action: Little Red Riding Hood encounters the wolf, who asks her where she is going and then suggests a shortcut. The wolf then runs ahead to the grandmother’s house, where he eats the grandmother and disguises himself in her clothing.
  3. The climax: Little Red Riding Hood arrives at the grandmother’s house and is tricked by the wolf into coming close to the bed. The wolf then attempts to eat her but is thwarted by a passing woodsman who saves Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother by cutting the wolf open.
  4. The falling action: Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother are rescued, and the woodsman takes the wolf’s pelt as a trophy.
  5. The resolution: Little Red Riding Hood learns a lesson about trusting strangers and promises to never talk to strangers or leave the path again.

Overall, the plot of Little Red Riding Hood involves a journey, a dangerous encounter with a wolf, and a rescue that leads to a lesson learned-the importance of being cautious when talking to strangers.

Plot elements of Goldilocks and the Three Bears

The plot of Goldilocks and the Three Bears is a classic fairy tale which also has many different versions. However, the basic plot elements include:

  1. The inciting incident: Goldilocks stumbles upon the empty house of three bears while wandering in the woods.
  2. The rising action: Goldilocks enters the house and tries out different things – she eats the bears’ porridge, sits in their chairs, and sleeps in their beds. She finds the first two options too hot or too hard and the last one to be just right.
  3. The climax: The bears return home and discover that someone has been in their house. They then find Goldilocks asleep in Baby Bear’s bed.
  4. The falling action: Goldilocks wakes up to find herself surrounded by the bears and runs out of the house in fright.
  5. The resolution: Goldilocks learns a lesson about respecting others’ property and promises to never enter someone’s house without permission again.

Plot elements of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

  1. The inciting incident: Charlie Bucket, a poor boy from a large family, discovers one of five golden tickets that will allow him to tour Willy Wonka’s mysterious chocolate factory.
  2. The rising action: Charlie and the other four children who have won golden tickets enter the chocolate factory and encounter its many wonders. Along the way, the children are eliminated one by one due to their own vices or bad behaviour.
  3. The climax: Charlie is the only child left and is offered a chance to inherit Willy Wonka’s factory, but only if he passes a test of character.
  4. The falling action: Charlie successfully passes the test and is named the heir to the factory. He and his family move into the factory, and Willy Wonka reveals his plan to retire.
  5. The resolution: Charlie lives happily ever after in the chocolate factory with his family.

Bonus Tip: In your plan, include a note on what kind of tone or mood you want for each part of the story.

In addition to these elements, in my story planning template I’ve included a prompt that gets children to consider what emotion they want the reader to feel at that point of the story. When it comes to writing the story, this will help them consider how to develop the tone and mood of their writing using literary devices, or help them make vocabulary choices which will be consistent with the emotions they are writing about.

Planning the tone or mood of each part of the story also helps avoid any jarring or confusing shifts in the mood and it can significantly impact its effectiveness. By planning the tone or mood of each part of the story, children can make sure their writing effectively conveys its intended emotional impact on the reader.

Also, when it comes to you checking their writing, you can refer to the emotions they planned to create and work with the child if required to help them find words and phrases to create those effects.

Download my child friendly ready-to-use Story Planning Template:

I have created a template that can be used to plan the story. I have used boxes for each part of the plan, to leave it open ended. Younger kids may want to draw the main events. Older kids can write a couple of sentences in each box for each of the five main elements of a story plot.

Children who are using this to prepare for the creative writing task of their GCSE English exams may not want to use the tradition story arc, and end things on a cliff hanger, or use a different story structure, for example flash backs or flash forwards. That’s ok- just get them to use the boxes in the order they intend to write the story, and definitely get them to consider the mood/ tone of each part of their writing.

If you would like to share any work made by your kids whilst using this guide feel free to comment below, or email me at

I hope this helps some of you out!

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