Freytag’s Pyramid is a seminal model that writers have utilized since its inception, breathing life into compelling narratives that captivate audiences. As we delve into its myriad layers, we’ll uncover how it lends structure to the chaos of storytelling, prompting readers to embark on an emotional roller-coaster that leaves them yearning for more.

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What is Freytag’s Pyramid in Story?

First, let’s define Freytag’s Pyramid

Now that we've piqued your interest, let's dissect the definition of Freytag's Pyramid to understand its underlying principles.


What is a Freytag’s Pyramid?

Freytag's Pyramid is a framework that outlines a five-part structure for dramatic storytelling: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and dénouement. Named after Gustav Freytag, a 19th-century German novelist, this model maps out the narrative arc, guiding writers in crafting stories that align with the rhythm of human experience.

What is Freytag’s Pyramid Composed Of?

  • Exposition
  • Rising Action
  • Climax
  • Falling Action
  • Dénouement

Each step in Freytag's Pyramid plays an integral role in shaping the narrative, taking readers on an unforgettable journey of tension, conflict, and resolution. Understanding these elements provides us with the tools to craft a gripping story, a tale that resonates deeply with our audience.

Freytags Pyramid Components


This initial stage of exposition sets the scene by introducing the characters, providing background information, and establishing the setting. It lays the foundation upon which the action will unfold, allowing the audience to familiarize themselves with the story's key elements. 

Exposition Explained

For example, in the epic film The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, the exposition introduces Frodo Baggins, a humble hobbit from the Shire, and his peaceful life before he becomes the unlikely hero tasked with destroying the dangerous One Ring. 

What is Freytag's Pyramid Freytag’s Pyramid Examples in The Lord of the Rings StudioBinder

Frodo Baggins  •  Freytag’s Pyramid Examples in Exposition

Through beautiful cinematography and captivating storytelling, the exposition also sets the stage for the looming threat that the One Ring poses to the world, creating a sense of anticipation and mystery.

Plot Triangle Components 

Rising Action 

As the narrative progresses, the main character encounters a series of conflicts that gradually escalate the tension and propel the story forward. 

In one of Christopher Nolan’s best films The Dark Knight, the rising action showcases Batman's relentless pursuit of the Joker, a sadistic and unpredictable villain who thrives on chaos. 

What is Freytag's Pyramid Freytag’s Pyramid Examples in The Dark Knight StudioBinder

The Dark Knight  •  Freytag’s Pyramid Examples in Rising Action

With each encounter, the conflict between Batman and the Joker intensifies, leading to a gripping battle of wits and a series of events that plunge Gotham City into unprecedented chaos and moral dilemmas. These conflicts serve as obstacles for the protagonist to overcome, pushing them out of their comfort zone and testing their abilities and resolve. 

Climax in Freytags Pyramid 


The climax represents the turning point of the story, where the protagonist faces their most significant challenge or conflict. It is the moment of highest tension and often determines the outcome of the narrative. 

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In the blockbuster film Avengers: Endgame, the climax occurs during the epic final battle between the Avengers and the formidable Thanos, a powerful and ruthless villain who seeks to reshape the universe. The Avengers, united and driven by a common purpose, engage in a breathtaking display of heroism and sacrifice to save not only themselves but the entire universe from Thanos' destructive plans. 

This climactic battle showcases the culmination of years of storytelling and leaves audiences on the edge of their seats, wondering about the fate of their beloved characters.

Winding Down

Falling Action 

Post-climax, the narrative enters the falling action phase where conflicts begin to resolve, and the story starts to wind down. This stage allows for reflection and closure, as the characters come to terms with the consequences of the climax and the aftermath of their actions. 

In the iconic film Titanic, the falling action explores the tragic aftermath of the ship's sinking. Survivors cope with the loss of loved ones, grapple with their own guilt and survival, and find solace and closure in various ways. 

This part of the story offers a glimpse into the resilience of the human spirit and the profound impact of the disaster on the characters' lives.

Elements of Freytag’s Pyramid


The dénouement, also known as the resolution, is the final stage of the narrative where all loose ends are tied up, providing closure to the story or offering a glimpse into the characters' future. 

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In the enchanting film La La Land, the dénouement reveals the bittersweet outcome of the protagonists' love story. Through a powerful and emotionally charged sequence, the audience witnesses the characters' separate paths and the sacrifices they make to pursue their dreams. 

This final stage leaves room for contemplation and reflection, inviting viewers to ponder the complexities of love, ambition, and the choices we make in life.

By expanding on the details and nuances of each stage, the storytelling becomes richer and more immersive, captivating the audience and allowing them to fully engage with the narrative.

What is Freytag’s Pyramid Used For?

Importance of Freytag's Pyramid

Freytag's Pyramid, named after Gustav Freytag, serves as a vital tool for writers across various film genres. This structural framework mirrors the ebb and flow of human experience, creating engaging and relatable stories that captivate readers. 

What is Freytag's Pyramid Freytag’s Pyramid Template StudioBinder

Freytag’s Pyramid Template

By offering a well-balanced approach between exposition and action, it allows for seamless character development and plot progression, fostering a deeper connection between readers and the narrative. 

With its clear stages of exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution, Freytag's Pyramid provides a roadmap for writers to craft compelling stories that resonate with their audience on a profound level. There are, however, exceptions to the use of Freytag's pyramid in storytelling. 

What is Freytag’s Pyramid in Story?

Exceptions to Freytag's Pyramid

While Freytag's Pyramid is a widely accepted model, it's important to recognize that it's not a one-size-fits-all solution. Not all narratives follow a linear progression. Let's explore a few storytelling techniques that intentionally deviate from this story structure:

Nonlinear Narratives

Nonlinear narratives present the story in a non-chronological order. They may jump back and forth in time, offering different perspectives and creating a sense of mystery and intrigue.

Anti-climactic Stories

In contrast to the traditional story arc, anti-climactic stories purposely avoid building up to a grand climax or resolution. Instead, they focus on everyday life moments, mundane situations, or unexpected twists that challenge conventional storytelling norms.

When we think about storytelling, it's easy to get stuck in the traditional mold of Freytag's Pyramid. It's a tried and true structure, sure, but it isn't the only way to tell a compelling tale.

It's not about throwing Freytag's Pyramid out the window, but rather, stepping outside of its shadow to see what else is possible. It's about taking risks, playing with different narrative styles, and seeing where they take you.

Breaking down Freytag’s Triangle with Jaws

Freytag’s Pyramid Examples in Film

Films often employ Freytag's Pyramid to captivate their audience. For instance, the movie Jaws meticulously follows the model. 

What is Freytag's Pyramid Freytag’s Pyramid Example in Jaws StudioBinder

Jaws  •  Freytag’s Pyramid Examples


The calm setting of Amity Island is established, introducing the characters and their lives. 

Rising Action 

The peaceful atmosphere is disrupted by the presence of a menacing shark, creating tension and a sense of impending danger. 


The thrilling confrontation between the shark and the main characters reaches its peak, creating a high point of excitement and suspense. 

Falling Action 

After the intense battle, the aftermath and consequences of the confrontation are explored, bringing a sense of resolution and closure. 


The story concludes with the restoration of peace, as the shark is defeated and life on Amity Island returns to normal.

Think of Freytag's Pyramid not as a stodgy formula, but rather, a friendly guide to narrative creation. It's not about rigid rules or stifling creativity, but rather, giving it direction, ensuring each part does its job to captivate the reader and etch an unforgettable imprint on their mind.

Up Next

What is Story Structure?

Now that we have analyzed Freytag's Pyramid and its application in storytelling, let's explore a broader aspect of narrative construction in our next piece on story structure. This will help us understand how story elements come together to create an engaging narrative.

Up Next: Story Structures →
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