Activity Overview

Students can create a storyboard capturing the narrative arc in a novel with a six-cell storyboard containing the major parts of the plot diagram that occur within a five act structure. For each cell have students create a scene that follows the novel in sequence using: Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.

The Great Gatsby Plot Diagram Example


The narrator, Nick Carraway, has moved east, to New York City, to pursue a career in bonds. When he arrives, he visits his wealthy cousin, Daisy, and her husband, Tom Buchanan, for dinner. At their home in East Egg, he meets Jordan Baker, a famous golfer, and friend of Daisy.


The novel’s conflict is framed by Nick’s struggle to retell the events of his life as it relates to the mysterious Jay Gatsby. This is apparent in Chapter One:

This responsiveness had nothing to do with that flabby impressionability that is dignified under the name of the “creative temperament”. — It was an extraordinary gift for hope, a romantic readiness such as I have never found in any other person and which it is not likely I shall ever find again. No — Gatsby turned out all right at the end; it is what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the wake of his dreams that temporarily closed out my interest in the abortive sorrows and short-winded elation of men.

F. Scott Fitzgerald The Great Gatsby

Rising Action

In this storyboard, two cells were used to show the rising action in different groups of characters. In the rising action, it’s revealed that Tom Buchanan is having an affair with a woman named Myrtle Wilson. She is relatively poor and lives in the Valley of Ashes with her husband, George, a repair station owner. The rising action also reveals the identity and background of Jay Gatsby, Nick’s illustrious neighbor and Daisy’s former lover. Nick later reunites them, and they begin an affair.


Daisy attempts to leave Tom for Gatsby. After a heated argument, Daisy grows confused, and ultimately changes her mind. Tom bitterly instructs Daisy to go home with Gatsby, despite that she is now scared of him. Meanwhile, Myrtle, who was locked in her room because her husband suspected her of having an affair, escapes. Daisy is driving down the road, but Myrtle thinks it is Tom. She rushes towards the car; it hits her and she is killed.

Falling Action and Resolution

George kills Gatsby and himself, believing Gatsby was having an affair with Myrtle, and was responsible for her death. In the end, Nick is dismayed by the lack of remorse shown by Daisy and Tom, and by the all the people who used Gatsby. This final quote from Chapter Nine reveals Nick’s feelings:

I couldn't forgive him or like him, but I saw that what he had done was, to him, entirely justified. It was all very careless and confused. They were careless people, Tom, and Daisy — they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made. . . .

F. Scott Fitzgerald The Great Gatsby

Template and Class Instructions

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Activity", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)

Student Instructions

Create a visual plot diagram of The Great Gatsby.

  1. Click "Start Assignment".
  2. Separate the story into the Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.
  3. Create an image that represents an important moment or set of events for each of the story components.
  4. Write a description of each of the steps in the plot diagram.

Lesson Plan Reference

Common Core Standards
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/11-12/3] Analyze the impact of the author’s choices regarding how to develop and relate elements of a story or drama (e.g., where a story is set, how the action is ordered, how the characters are introduced and developed)
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/11-12/5] Analyze how an author’s choices concerning how to structure specific parts of a text (e.g., the choice of where to begin or end a story, the choice to provide a comedic or tragic resolution) contribute to its overall structure and meaning as well as its aesthetic impact
  • [ELA-Literacy/W/11-12/1] Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence


(You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)

Plot Diagram Rubric (Grades 9-12)
Create a plot diagram for the story using Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.
25 Points
21 Points
17 Points
Try Again
13 Points
Descriptive and Visual Elements
Cells have many descriptive elements, and provide the reader with a vivid representation.
Cells have many descriptive elements, but flow of cells may have been hard to understand.
Cells have few descriptive elements, or have visuals that make the work confusing.
Cells have few or no descriptive elements.
Textables have three or fewer spelling/grammar errors.
Textables have four or fewer spelling/grammar errors.
Textables have five or fewer spelling/grammar errors.
Textables have six or more spelling/grammar errors.
Evidence of Effort
Work is well written and carefully thought out. Student has done both peer and teacher editing.
Work is well written and carefully thought out. Student has either teacher or peer editing, but not both.
Student has done neither peer, nor teacher editing.
Work shows no evidence of any effort.
All parts of the plot are included in the diagram.
All parts of the plot are included in the diagram, but one or more is confusing.
Parts of the plot are missing from the diagram, and/or some aspects of the diagram make the plot difficult to follow.
Almost all of the parts of the plot are missing from the diagram, and/or some aspects of the diagram make the plot very difficult to follow.

How to Discuss Cause and Effect of the Sequence of Events


List Down the Sequence of Events

Ask the students to list down all the sequences of events in the story. Using plot diagrams will aid this process.


Identify Cause and Effect

The teachers can ask the students to identify why certain events occurred and what decisions caused the occurrence of these events.


Use Color Coding

Introduce the concept of color coding to students. They can color certain events and their causes and effects with certain colors. This will be a visual aid and will help students distinguish plot elements.


Encourage Predictions

The students can predict how things would have gone differently if the characters had taken different decisions at certain points. This will help the students to understand the importance of decisions and give them the opportunity to think more freely and consider more options before making the final decision.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Great Gatsby Plot Diagram

What is a plot diagram, and how does "The Great Gatsby" relate to one?

A plot diagram is a visual picture that shows how a story is organized. It normally has five steps: introduction, rising action, climax, decreasing action, and resolution. In "The Great Gatsby," the plot diagram helps in organizing the series of events that form the narrative, from the location and character introductions (exposition) through the turning point and height of tension (climax), then the resolution of the story's problems.

What kind of Impact does the climax have on the story?

The most dramatic and important part of "The Great Gatsby" is the climax. The climax is typically a bridge between the ending and the middle. It tells the major consequences of the decisions taken by the characters. In the climax of The Great Gatsby, The terrible vehicle crash happens as a result of an altercation between Gatsby, Tom Buchanan, and Daisy. The story's turning point occurs at the climax, following which the action shifts towards a happy ending.

What kind of Information can the plot diagram provide?

The plot diagram makes it easier to spot important developments that affect the characters' growth. For instance, Gatsby's romantic interest in Daisy and his desire to take back the past have a big impact on who he is. Character reactions and development in response to the climax are shown in the declining action and resolution.

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