Plot - Rising Action

plot rising action Mar 18, 2021

What experience do you want readers to have, while reading your story? Do you want them to be entertained, delighted, surprised? Do you want to inform or educate people about a particular subject or culture or memory? Do you want to anger them, terrify them, or turn them on?

Knowing what you want your reader to experience will help any author develop their Rising Action.

In the book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, author Robert M. Pirsig created an adventure story, the tale of a man on a journey with his son and two friends, facing some of the philosophical and psychological challenges from his past.

During the story, which takes place during a motorcycle trip from the Midwest to Montana, readers also learn about the main character’s past as a college professor. Pirsig explains that he had an intellectual crisis, followed by a mental breakdown, when he asked his students to explain the word “Quality.”

Quality is one of those words that we recognize and understand, but it’s very challenging to define. As readers of “Zen” we aren’t just witnessing the complicated life of a very bright man, we are brought along on that quest to understand Quality. We are challenged to question everything around us, and to create our own sacred meanings for the things, people and events in our life. We are asked to participate in this “Inquiry Into Values” as the author referred to his best-selling book.

And yes, there is a story happening along with this inquiry. The protagonist rides his motorcycle. He argues with his son. He enjoys the trip. He stops during rainstorms and works on his bike. He remembers his past although through the fog of psychiatric treatments he endured after his breakdown. He realizes that his demons are not gone, and he is horrified to learn that his son might have inherited some of his own mental health troubles, as well.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is a brilliant story for any reader, but readers who like to question the status quo, who enjoy taking things apart to study how they work, and who evaluate the meaning of life will particularly enjoy this story, and the Rising Action that occurs. Pirsig manages to educate and inform us, even while he is entertaining us with his story.

When you decide what you want your reader to experience, and you match that against the Conflicts your characters are facing, you can begin to craft masterful literature to lead readers through your story from start to finish, Introduction to Resolution.

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