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Transcript

Exposition

Resolution

Climax

Conflict

Falling Action

Narrative Plot Diagram

Rising Action

Click the Plot Elements to learn more about how they drive a narrative!

Click the arrow below to see an example!

Exposition

Resolution

Climax

Conflict

Falling Action

The Lion King - Narrative Plot

Rising Action

Click the Plot Elements to see examples of the plot elements in Disney's famous The Lion King film!

Never seen The Lion King? It's on Disney+! Click above to watch the original 1994 movie trailer.

The Protagonist's Challenge

Conflict

Conflict can be defined as a struggle or a problem that the protagonist must deal with and ultimately face head-on. There are many types of conflict that can be found in a narrative:

  • Man vs. Man (Ex. Batman vs. The Joker)
  • Man vs. Nature (Ex. Trying to survive a zombie apocalypse)
  • Man vs. Society (Ex. Being a rebel in a dystopian society)
  • Man vs. Self (Ex. Struggling with identity crises)
Conflict provides a narrative with drama. The protagonist has a reason to make decisions, take actions, and maybe even change as a person. It also gives you a reason to be invested in the story! How will the conflict grow? How will it end? You have to keep reading to find out!

Building the Tension

Rising Action

The Rising Action includes multiple important events that drives the narrative along! These events may include character interaction, key decisions, important events and dialogue.Rising Action helps by providing character development and conflict development. This way, you better understand your protagonist and the challenges they're facing. You may also begin to develop hopes and fears for where the story goes!

Picking Up the Pieces

Falling Action

When the conflict peaks at the Climax, the narrative will turn a corner - either for better or for worse! The protagonist may experience victory, loss or a reason to make a change. Depending on the outcome, you'll notice that the source of the conflict will begin to fade or to persist as a threat. If we went straight to "The End" after the Climax, we would be left with a lot of questions. How do things settle? What happens to everyone? There is always fall-out that needs to be explained. The Falling Action includes a series of events that show the consequences of the Climax and how it affects the characters and their world. The action tends to ramp down, and help us make sense of how the story is going to end. We can begin to pick up the pieces with our protagonist and determine it will be a happy end or a sad ending - or something in-between.

Ending the Journey

Resolution

The movie flashes forward to a fully restored kingdom. All of the animals are gathered at Pride Rock, similar to the beginning of the movie. Simba and Nala emerge in front of the crowds - it can be assumed that they have gotten married and started a family. With Rafiki's help, they present a new lion cub to the kingdom. It is clear that Simba has followed in his father's footsteps and assumed the responsibility and privilege of being the King of Pride Rock.

The Turning Point

Climax

As the protagonist struggles with the conflict, the narrative will grow in excitement, tension and drama. The protagonist's course of life may change multiple times as they make stressful decisions, encounter new challenges and experience loss. Ultimately, the Rising Action events will lead to the Climax - where the protagonist must face the conflict head-on. This is often the turning point in the narrative, where the action reaches its highest point of excitement. Something has to change. Something must be done! What will the protagonist do? What will happen as a result?

Picking Up the Pieces

Falling Action

  1. Rain begins falling on the savannah, putting out the brushfire and reviving the land.
  2. The lions begin to feel hope.
  3. Simba has his first real chance to talk with his mother, Nala, Timon and Pumba.
  4. He assumes his rightful place as King of Pride Rock.

Building the Tension

Rising Action

  1. Simba sneaks off to explore an off-limits "Elephant Graveyard" with his friend Nala. They are attacked by hyenas, only to be saved by Mufasa. Mufasa gives him a stern talking-to about safety,responsibility and Simba's destiny as the future king.
  2. We find out that the hyenas answer to Scar. He hatches a plot to overthrow Mufasa and get rid of Simba so that he can become king.
  3. Scar invites Simba to meet him in a valley. Meanwhile, the hyenas trigger an antelope stampede that traps Simba. Mufasa comes in and saves him. When he tries to climb to safety, Scar throws him to his death. Scar convinces Simba that it's his fault his father is dead. Simba takes off into the desert in fear, shame and grief.
  4. Scar takes over Pride Rock.
  5. Simba is rescued by meerkat Timon and warthog Pumba, who raise him in a lush oasis. He grows up ignoring his past, until grown-up Nala finds him and tries to convince him to return to Pride Rock and save his family from Scar. They argue and Simba rejects this, still believing he is responsible for his father's death.
  6. Simba meets the sage mandrill Rafiki, who used to counsel Mufasa. Rafiki leads him to an encounter with the spirit of Mufasa, who tells Simba to remember who is he truly is.
  7. Simba returns home to confront his uncle and claim his position as the true king of Pride Rock.

The Protagonist's Challenge

Conflict

PRIMARY CONFLICT: Man vs. Man Simba vs. MufasaScar is Mufasa's bitter younger brother, angry that he is not able to be king of Pride Rock. He is directly responsible for Mufasa's death, Simba's disappearance and the mismanagement of Pride Rock.This Man vs. Man conflict provides the action and drama that moves the narrative along and forces the characters to make tough decisions.SECONDARY CONFLICT: Man vs. Self Simba's Identity CrisisSimba starts out as a naive but confident young cub who wants to be just like his father one day. Mufasa's death gives Simba a crippling sense of guilt, to the point where he runs away. He believes everyone is better off without him, and that he will never be good enough. Simba has to learn to truth of why his father died, and also accept his calling as Mufasa's son and the true king of Pride Rock.This Man vs. Self conflict helps us sympathize with the protagonist. It provides emotional depth and a chance for Simba to dynamically grow as a character.

The Turning Point

Climax

Simba returns to Pride Rock and discovers his childhood home is a barren wasteland. His family is starving and harshly ruled by Scar and the hyenas. Simba confronts his uncle face-to-face. He asserts that he's done running from his past and letting Scar hurt his family. A lightning storm begins as they fight to the death. Just when it seems Scar may win, he whispers the truth to Simba: "I killed Mufasa." This gives Simba the strength he needs to fight back and win. Scar tries to blame everything on the hyenas, but Simba does not listen. He could kill his uncle, but he shows mercy and tells Scar to leave forever. Scar does not get the chance, because the starving hyenas close in and kill him for his betrayal.

Laying the Groundwork

EXPOSITION:

Think of this like Chapter One in your favorite book, or the first 15 minutes or so of a movie. This is where the narrative introduces...

  • SETTING - when/where the story takes place
  • CHARACTERS - protagonist, supporting character(s), antagonist(s)
The CONFLICT may also be introduced, although it hasn't been fully developed yet.These elements help you know who's the main character, where their story starts and where they are headed!

Laying the Groundwork

EXPOSITION:

The movie begins with a musical montage of the African savannah, with all of the different animals waking up and going about their day. We are introduced the a pride of lions - specifically the "king" Mufasa and his cub Simba, who is presented to the kingdom in front of all the animals. Mufasa and his righthand bird Zazu then confront Mufasa's brother Scar, who did not show up for this event. Scar does not seem to be a team player, and has no interest in his new nephew. He seems bitter that his brother is king.When Simba is a little older, Mufasa takes him out to teach him that one day, the kingdom will be long to him.

  • SETTING - The African savannah; Simba's home of Pride Rock
  • CHARACTERS
    • Protagonist: Simba
    • Antagonist: Scar
    • Supporting Characters: Mufasa, Zazu

Ending the Journey

Resolution

Your protagonist has been through a lot during this narrative! They have struggled through their conflict, faced it head-on and experienced the ripple effects through their life and world. Once the Falling Action shows how the story is ending, we reach the Resolution - the official end of the journey. Here, the conflict should be resolved either in the protagonist's victory or their loss. Either way, you should have an idea of how the story ends. This may include clear outcomes for the protagonist's life and world, dynamic changes in the characters or simply a better understanding of the protagonist themself. You will probably be left with a feeling of either "The End" or "To Be Continued" (if there seems to be a sequel). You will also have all the information you need to begin thinking about the narrative's theme - what the lesson or moral of the story is.