Ride the Freytag-Coaster

In sixth grade, I was given a handout of a stick figure on a roller coaster (Oh, English Teachers.) The bell curve of the roller coaster was labeled with five stages: the start of the ride was the “exposition,” the inclined slope was the “rising action,” the peak of the bell curve was the “climax,” followed by a downward-sloping “falling action”, and the tapering end of the ride was called the “denoument.” To make it all even more hilarious, our teacher had also drawn little versions of the stick figure on each stage of the roller coaster: looking nervous during the “rising action,” satisfied at the end, and so on.

I probably rolled my eyes at this drawing the first time around–it seemed so elementary (the stick-figures didn’t help). But truth be told, I was still struggling with this storytelling method halfway through college. It was there I learned that the stick-figure thrill-ride from Language Arts was actually an incredibly important (but easily forgettable) literary principle known as “Freytag’s Pyramid.”

In your story, take Freytag’s pyramid into account–literally. Write about a character who, however you imagine it, is on a curve-shaped journey. Physically takes them along the path of something resembling a pyramid, roller coaster, skyscraper, mountain, giant bell, etc. Exaggerate the five stages of a story that Freytag has specified using a literal shape of something. Start out with a drawing of a curve and go from there. Or whatever this makes you think of.