The Plot is the “broomstick” that drives people to continue reading a book full of antidotes, because no matter how witty, citizens still crave a plot. There are theories that there is only seven different plots in story telling. Writers can argue this point forever. Some claim there are only 3, happy ending, unhappy ending and literary ending. Some claim there are as many as 36.
I go to Christopher Booker’s The Seven Basic Plots that is a very LONG BOOK, so I will summarize. Don’t get me wrong, it is a great book that gets a bit repetitive at times, but if you can slog through the material, you’re rewarded with a good understanding of the seven basic plots. You can also get a good dose of Jungian psychology to boot. Booker likes to talk about the symbolism of the masculine and feminine aspects of a character.
Here are Booker’s seven plots:
1. Overcoming the Monster
Hero learns of a great evil threatening the land, and sets out to destroy it.
2. Rags to Riches
Surrounded by dark forces that suppress and ridicule him, the Hero slowly blossoms into a mature figure that ultimately gets riches, a kingdom, and the perfect mate.
3. The Quest
Hero learns of a great treasure (a Maguffin) that he desperately wants to find, and sets out to find it, often with companions.
4. Voyage and Return
Hero heads off into a magic land with crazy rules, ultimately triumphs over the madness and returns home far more mature than when he set out.
5. Comedy or Romance
Hero and Heroine are destined to get together, but a dark force is preventing them from doing so; the story conspires to make the dark force repent, and suddenly the Hero and Heroine are free to get together. This is part of a cascade of effects that shows everyone for who they really are, and allows two or more other relationships to correctly form.
The flip side of the Overcoming the Monster plot. Our protagonist character is the Villain, but we get to watch him slowly spiral down into darkness before he’s finally defeated, freeing the land from his evil influence.
As with the Tragedy plot, but our protagonist manages to realize his error before it’s too late, and does a heel face turn to avoid inevitable defeat.
There is talk that in Alice Sebold’s novel “The Lovely Bones” a new plot line was created for the first time in recent history. In deconstructing the novel, it really does not fit into any of the 7 blot points, which is one of the reasons readers were so drawn to it (the movie was horrible adaption, so read the book if you have not yet done so).
Take 3 of your favorite books (or movies) and find which of the 7 plot points they fit in to.
Write a story using this formula: A group of people on a road trip decide to make a stop at an old, abandoned carnival that they pass. When strange things start happening they soon realize that there is something very odd about this carnival.
500 words! Have fun (and you can totally replace carnival with any thing else you want, my mind just naturally goes there).