Plot: External and Internal Action

The word plot comes from the Old French word complot, meaning “a secret scheme.” It has an added sense of its parts being closely packed together. Plot has parallel meanings related to secret intrigues or conspiracies and to suspense. Aristotle believed that plot was the first principle and the soul of drama. He described it as the imitation of the action and the arrangement of the incidents. He also said that a plot has a beginning, a middle, and an end and that it presents a single complete action.

Writers from Voltaire to Bertolt Brecht have debated Aristotle’s statements about plot, but that is not of concern here. Most audiences, including actors, directors, and designers, expect some kind of ...

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