Friday, April 13, 2012

Several ways to create unusual plot lines

Someone told me that there are just five types of plots: a love story, the battle of good versus evil, a revenge saga, a quest and a journey into the unknown, and almost all the stories ever written fall heavily into one of these types. When we ponder the above statement, we can definitely agree. Almost every story we have read embraces one of these plot lines.

Some stories flirt with just a single plot line while others hug more than a few in a single story. The more plot types the better the reader interest.

I feel there are certain motifs or patterns that tend to recur in one form or another throughout world literature. Below, I have listed a number of the most identifiable ones.

The Battle with the Monster.
The Quest.
The Voyage and the Return Home.
The Hero hidden as the Monster.
The Divided Self.
The Engagement with the Dark Power
The Fatal Flaw.
The Journey from Rags to Riches.
The Voyage to the Underworld.
The Battle between Good and Evil.
A Love Story.
The Revenge Drama.
Adventure Stories.
Weakling turned into Superhero.
The Chase.
Entry into a New World.
Encounter with a Strange Creature.
One  Man Against Society.
One Apart

The hallmark of a good story teller is when  more than one of the plot types are incorporated into a single story in a seamless way. So far I don’t think I have consciously done that. I have always relied heavily on one kind of a plot. Many writers combine several types of plots and create a new plot or play upon a plot line by giving it a modern twist.

 Can you think of more plot patterns? What kind of a plot pattern does your book fall into? Do any stories with several plot lines come to your mind? How do you tackle your own plots? We would love to hear your views.


  1. Rachna, your posts are so educative! I will wait for other writers to see what they do their plots:)I too am first to comment today:)

  2. MY ZOMBIE DOG is definitely MC battles with the monster - cool post.
    Wagging Tales

  3. My current WIP is also a vs Monster plot type. My previous one was a bout a guy wrongly accused, not sure what that falls under.

    Moody Writing
    The Funnily Enough

  4. Interesting and educative as always.
    Hero is not always born from his heroic character but also from protagonist's darker side.

  5. There are supposed to be only seven basic plots but I agree with this sentence of yours:
    The hallmark of a good story teller is when more than one of the plot types are incorporated into a single story in a seamless way.

  6. Interesting post. Particularly interesting, I thought, the list.
    Your blog goes from strength to strength.

  7. I agree. Most plots fall into one or another of these catagories.

  8. These can also work for the antagonist too. Example: my bad guy thinks he is the weakling turned into super hero. Of course, he's delusional. But this is what drives him into a slow descent into madness.

  9. Story telling is so much fun, isn't it, Rachna? I love your list on plot patterns. I don't identify my plot patterns when writing, but I do recognize them in my writing after. :-)

  10. Comprehensive list Rachna.

    I think seamless is the key. Whether you select a creative or familiar scene to weave, it has to fit well with all the writer's story.

  11. Most do fall into one of the catagories. Seamless should be what a story is about. :)


  12. Not sure where either of my books fall. That's not good.

  13. Hi friends..thanks for dropping by. Though most stories fall in one or the other plot lines, many times we writers are clueless at the begining of the stories. Its only later we realize that we have sub-consciously chosen a particular plot line.

  14. My current WIP includes the one apart and the chase.

  15. That's a great list already! I don't know that I can add to it, except to say that maybe a mashup of two or several often happen in novels.
    Hope you're having a great weekend, Rachna!

  16. I usually have a romantic subplot along with one of the other plots. Does that count as combine several types of plots? :D

  17. An excellent book on this subject is Story Structure Architect, by Victoria Schmidt.

    Victoria delves into every type of plot, and comes to the conclusion that there is really nothing new under the sun...

    But it's how we make it our own that makes a story unique and compelling!

  18. Wonderful food for thought, Rachna! Thank you. :)

  19. I love the list!
    Your post is so informative and you have a lovely place here! Multiple plot layers - I must keep this in mind. Thanks for sharing!