German writer and playwriter Gustav Freytag for a long time was trying to understand the impact of the stories on the reader. He wondered what distinguished a good story which could affect the hearts of listeners and even change their behavior (Ray, 2015). After studying the works of William Shakespeare, recognized as one of the best writers of all time, Freytag compiled a narrative map that shows why Shakespeare’s stories cling to us and attract attention, as well as what literary devices allow him to achieve such an effect. Now the narrative map compiled by Gustav Freytag allows one to interpret the structure of most of the “eternal” stories.

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According to Freytag, a good story in graphic form looks like a pyramid. It begins with a description of the situation, then the plot and the buildup of action throughout the development of the plot, then the culmination and finally the resolution, as the story ends, the action becomes less, the results are analyzed, conclusions are drawn (Ray, 2015). More detailed description can be found below:

1. The exposition or introduction is the background of events, the description of the scene, the characters, the features of society.
2. The rising action is the event or the chain of events which changes the relationship between heroes or develops the conflict described in the exposition (Schenker, 2017).
3. The climax is the highest point of the development of the conflict, the most intense moment.
4. The falling action is the resolution of the conflict, the change in the relationship between the heroes after the climax.
5. The resolution is a description of what happened after the denouement (Schenker, 2017).

The ability to tell stories and to inspire others is a secret weapon of many good writers. And in fact, this is one of the fundamental aspects of progress when we hear how other people overcome problems and get out of difficult situations. Freytag’s pyramid teaches how to make any story interesting and exciting. It makes a reader to finish the story, to compare himself to the heroes and to think of the way they could have got out of the conflict. Gustav Freytag made a key to the successful storytelling of any kind starting from “eternal” stories of the world literature and ending up with the simple life storytelling.

  • Ray R. (2015). The five act play (dramatic structure). StoryboardThat. Retrieved from
  • Schenker M. (2017). Freytag’s pyramid: examples of classic narrative structure for writers and marketers. ClearVoice. Retrieved from