Plot Patterns—Part IV Power & Allegory

plot-structureThe last few weeks we’ve been looking at plot patterns as outlined in James Scott Bell’s Plot & Structure. This week, we’ll wrap up plot systems with Power and Allegory. #plotting #plotpatterns Click to Tweet To access previous posts, click here.


The power plot pattern is all about a rise and fall of power. It could also take the form of a rise to power with moral consequences. “Power is not seen as something a person handles well.” Pg. 191

  • The Lead usually begins in a position of weakness
  • Through ambition and gaining of strength, the Lead’s power rises
  • There is a moral cost to gaining power
  • The Lead may experience a fall or be willing to sacrifice power to regain morality

Act I—The Lead begins outside of power but is somehow motivated to seek more. It’s a highly personal and important decision the Lead makes to purposely seek power.

Act II—As the Lead rises in power, we also see the moral decline because of choices he’s made.

Act III—Usually has the Lead becoming a totally different person than he started out to be. He’s compromised his moral compass and others are hoping he’ll change back to the way he was. The other ending could be that the Lead recognizes, or becomes self-aware that his change is not for the better, and sacrifices his position in some way.

Examples: The Godfather


A special plot pattern in which characters represent ideas, and the plot represents the consequences of those ideas.

  • Double meanings, the story itself, then what it represents
  • Look for the philosophy behind the story, what’s driving it
  • Avoid becoming preachy
  • Make sure the characters are real

Act I—introduces the characters and setting

Act II—characterizes the beginning of struggles and how the stakes are raised

Act III—resolution comes only after an epic battle. The resolution could be a good outcome or a negative one.

Examples: The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lord of the Rings, Moby Dick, The Call of the Wild, Animal Farm

What about you? What plotting system appeals to you—The Power Plot, or how about an Allegory? Click to Tweet Leave a comment and let me know. #plotpatterns #plotting

3 Comments on “Plot Patterns—Part IV Power & Allegory”

  1. I think I lean towards allegories or metaphor in my writing..for blogposts as an example..But for my novel it is more the power plot.


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