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A Novel's 4 Parts Cheat Sheet by

Description and definitions of the 4 parts of a novel.

Novel Parts

There are 4 parts to every novel--or story for that matter: Exposi­tion, Compli­cation, Climax, and Resolution


This is the first stage to setting up the story within the novel. At this point, the protag­onist and setting are introd­uced.


In this second stage, the antagonist is introd­uced. The antagonist often provides the conflict for the story, but it may also come from other areas such as setting.

Rising Action

The suspense or increased tension that is caused by conflict between the protag­onist and antago­nist.

Two Types of Conflict

Conflict between man and himself. He the conflict is in the mind of the character --hence, "­int­ern­al."­
Conflict between man and an outside force like another man, nature, or society.
Example: Billy loves Sally but is conflicted about telling her. If he doesn't, his love will remain unrequ­ited. If he tells her, and she rejects him, their friendship will change forever. What is poor Billy to do?!?!
Example: James finds out that Billy has feeling for Sally. It turns out that James also has feelings for Sally. Billy's conflict is external in that he must now deal with James.


In this 3rd stage, sometimes referred to as the turning point, the protag­onist either achieves his goal or fails due to the antago­nist. All conflicts and rising actions end here.

Two Types of Climax

Technical Climax:
Dramatic Climax:
This type of climax refers to the event that leads to the turning point in the story.
The specific moment of highest interest and intensity.


Sometimes called the Denouement.
In this 4th stage, we are presented with the falling action. This is the part of the story where all the loose ends are tied up...or not. Maybe there's a sequel in the works!


My first Cheat Sheet! I'm not sure why the four columns are reduced to three in the PDF--I think if the sheet was oriented landscape instead of portrait, it would be 4 columns wide. Perhaps there is a way to change column width. Maybe someone can make a suggestion.

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