Simple and predictable plots are winners with the earliest levels of easy readers. Don’t add too many elements to the plot structure that will cause young readers to pause to figure out what’s happening. They’re so focused on understanding each word and each sentence that adding complicated elements to the plot will overwhelm them and they will give up trying to read the story. You can help them focus even more on learning vocabulary and reading skills by choosing to structure your story in a predictable pattern.
Predictable plots that use repetition and a list or series of events to move the story forward can be very effective in the earliest levels of beginning readers. A surprise at the end is always a plus and leaves young readers feeling very pleased and satisfied when the story is over.
There are various plot structures you can utilize when writing emergent readers with predictable plots. Here are some of them:
Predictable Plots for Children’s Stories
Cumulative stories follow a plot where each time a new event occurs, all previous events are repeated. Think of the folk tale, This is the House that Jack Built.
Decreasing structure stories start with more and end with less. Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed is an example that is also a counting story.
Increasing structure stories such as There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly start small and build up to a grand and glorious ending.
Full circle stories follow a round pattern because they begin and end in a similar way. Laura Numeroff is a master at writing circular stories, as demonstrated with her endearing picture book, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, and other books she has written in that series.
Pattern stories such as The Gingerbread Man have each new scene repeat the previous ones with only slight variations.
Question and answer stories such as the picture book Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Bill Martin develop the plot by asking repetitive questions with slight variations of text accompanied by repetitive answers with slight variations of text as well.
Sequence stories develop the plot based on counting with numbers, the alphabet, the days of the week, the months of the year or other predictable and familiar sequences. My book, D is for Drinking Gourd: An African American Alphabet is a picture book that incorporates the sequence of the alphabet from A to Z as part of its plot structure.
Not only are predictable plots used in beginning readers, however, they’re also used at times in magazine stories, picture books, and even children’s novels!
To learn more about writing predictable plots, check out my new book for children’s writers, Yes! You Can Learn How to Write Beginning Readers and Chapter Books. Get it for your writing buddy for Christmas or put it on your own Christmas list!