Dramatic Arc Example

1. Exposition/Introduction

Teri Balser teaches soil science. She has loved dirt from an early age.

2. Inciting Incident

Teri’s students are bored. Most of the students (98%) are not soil science majors. Teri wants her students to learn the course content and recognize how interesting soil science can be.

3. Rising Action

Students are not learning course content.

4. Climax

Students are gaming the system of test-taking.

5. Falling Action

Teri explores and implements alternative assessments.

6. Resolution/Denouement

Students demonstrate that they are engaged with the subject. Their engagement nurtures their ability to understand course concepts.


The Dramatic Arc consists of six basic stages. The precipitating event (inciting incident) introduces a conflict that creates increasing tension (rising action) as the characters deal with a problem. The tension rises to a climax at which point the problem begs for resolution while at the same...

One example of deploying the Dramatic Arc is seen in Teri Balser’s story of finding a different way to approach teaching her subject. As a professor of Soil Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Balser cared about student learning and recognized the lack of enthusiasm that most of her...
Learning Applications

When to apply this structure:
Dramatic Arc narrative describes classical and traditional Western narratives so is prevalent in the literature and film of Western cultures. One key to recognizing or using this structure is that based on the beginning, the end is often expected. It is...