Freytag’s Pyramid in Fiction Writing, Rejection Letters, What not to do on your blog/website

Lately I’ve come across several blogs and websites used solely for a place to complain.  We, as writers, deal with rejection all the time.

Rejection is hard.  When that agent/editor/publisher tells you they are going to pass on your work, you can’t think of it as a slap in the face.

But it’s perfectly acceptable to feel like this inside…


Sure, sometimes you’ll get a rejection letter that says they feel they are not the right person to represent you.  This is a very subjective business.  And anyone who has sent out query letters has heard that many times.  However, if you continually hear that agents/editors/publishers are not connecting with your story or protagonist– take the advice.

Take a good hard, HONEST look at your sample pages– the all important first five– and figure out why they aren’t connecting.  Did you forget to give your reader a reason to care about your protagonist?  Do you have a realistic and plausible premise?

Do you have the necessary elements of a story arc incorporated cleanly?

According to Gustav Freytag’s analysis of Greek and Shakespearean structure, the arc should look like this…


Are you wondering why I’m using Freytag’s analysis?  Well, this is how I was taught, for one.  And for two, if you look at today’s fiction the same principle still applies.

Now let’s break it down in simpler terms.

Exposition:  The beginning of the story that introduces important background information about your story.  For example, the setting (where it takes place and when), events occurring before the main plot, the characters’ back stories, etc.   This is done using dialogue, flashbacks, character’s thoughts, background details, and/or narration.

Rising Action:   Series of related incidents that build toward the point of greatest interest.  Events that lead up to the Climax.  These incidents are the most important part of the story since the entire plot depends on them to set up the Climax, and ultimately your resolution.

Climax:   This is the turning point for your protagonist.  It’s the point of no return.  The fork in the road.  Things go from good to bad, or bad to worse, for your main character and should show their weaknesses/flaws.

Falling Action:   The conflict between your protagonist and your antagonist (bad guy), where your protagonist may start to win, only to fall again.  It may contain a final showdown, where the outcome is uncertain or in doubt.

Denouement, resolution, revelation or catastrophe:   Conflicts are resolved, creating normality for the characters. This is also where the reader experiences catharsis (release of tension and anxiety).

This pyramid structure in NO WAY substitutes your nine checkpoints, which are:










If any of you are struggling with these checkpoints, or need a refresher,  I would be happy to write a post on them.  If I don’t hear from you, I’ll assume you already know them.

Okay?  Super.

This post started off being about rejection and ended with Freytag’s Pyramid.




Back to my point about rejection.

You shouldn’t use your blog and/or website as your personal soapbox to complain about agents, editors, publishers, or how the industry isn’t fair.

When I say “you” I DO NOT mean any of MY followers.  I am fortunate to have the best group ever…


Don’t isolate yourself…


You should use your blog to talk about happy things, interesting things, educational things.

If you want to share something wonderful that’s happened to you– go for it!

babyturtlecheer   FYI, that’s a real baby turtle who can cheer– incredible!

In case you weren’t aware– those same people you’re [email protected] about will look at your site before offering you representation, or a book contract.  So really, you are only punishing yourself.  Misery, in this case, does not want company.

I apologize if I’m coming across harshly– I’m trying to soften the blow by adding these cute photos– but I’m fed up reading complaints about this industry.  Maybe it isn’t fair, but no one is going to change that fact.

And when one of succeeds, we ALL succeed.  Dreams really DO come true!

(No photo this time– Gotcha!)

Try to look at the rejections you receive as a chance to improve your writing.  I know it’s not easy.  I’ve gotten plenty of rejection letters, and who knows if I’m done or not.  I’m STILL waiting to hear…

bear  And waiting and waiting…

Stephen King, J.K. Rollings, Patricia Clarkson, and every other writer whose “made it” have also received dozens of rejection letters.

As always, Believe in yourself!  If you are patient AND persistent YOU WILL achieve success!  Speaking of persistence, I recently heard of a writer who sent out 203 query letters– ALL rejected.  She sent out her 204th, and guess what?  She got her agent!  Maybe you’ve sent out 50 or 60 query letters with no success– send more!  Don’t give up!

Imagine if he did…

hippos  He’d sink!


What are your thoughts on rejection letters?  How do you handle your frustration?

If you have any questions on Freytag’s Pyramid– I’m right here to answer/listen to your questions/comments.




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6 thoughts on “Freytag’s Pyramid in Fiction Writing, Rejection Letters, What not to do on your blog/website

  1. Pingback: Please don’t base your success or failure by what you read on the internet | Murder Blog

  2. Pingback: Creating Characters in Fiction | Murder Blog

  3. Great post, rejection is tough, I’ve written about it myself but the feeling of an acceptance is amazing. My first short story that was accepted was a ‘stick it on the refrigerator for all to see’ moment. I’ve come to the conclusion that there are so many avenues nowadays to get your work out that that there’s no point in fretting over rejection. It still bums me out but only for a short sharp time


    • Hanging it on the fridge is a great idea! We need to celebrate our “wins”. You have a great outlook on rejection. Sure, it’s a bummer, but not dwelling on it, or dwelling for a “short sharp time” privately, is what makes you stand out from the rest. And congratulations on your short story– something positive to add to your query letter. Yay!


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