Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Some Age Old Plots

It has been frequently said that there are just a fixed number of  archetypal or typical plots (some people have even gone as far as saying that there are basically just three types of  plots: a Love Story, the  Battle of Good over Evil, and the last one, the Quest) and that every other plot is a variant or a spin-off, of the above three.

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 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

Many writers combine several  types of plots and create a new plot. This is one idea I try to follow: combining bits from different plots and  trying to make it unique by giving it my  own individualistic touch. Can you think of more plot patterns? What kind of a plot pattern does your book fall into?


  1. This reminds me of The Seven Basic Plots by Christopher Booker. Have you read it, Rachna? If not I do recommend. Hugs..

  2. Informative post, Rachna. Thanks for sharing. It will be very handy for novice writers like me.

  3. I would have to agree with you, Rachna. It is important to build your own story, using the themes and ideas that work for you, even though those ideas are not necessarily "new".

    The story I'm writing now... hmmm
    The Chase
    Battle with the monster
    Encounter with a strange creature

    ... maybe :)

  4. I like your list.
    I've heard there are 7 basic story plots.
    See: http://scribbleandedit.blogspot.com/2010/10/story-types.html

    There's the rebirth one, comedy and tragedy too :O)

  5. @ Carole...thanks. I have not read that book by Christopher Booker. I will try and get it. Hugs back.

    @ Tina...Glad you found it useful.

    @ Ken..your combination of plots sound pretty interesting.

    @ Madeleine....I too have heard that there are 3 and some say 7 basic story plots.

  6. I suppose most of my work falls into "The Battle with Self", something portrayed through a series of vignettes and periods of introspection....gosh, that's a lot like my real life :)

  7. Rachna,

    Like you I combine several plots. Mostly, it's the quest, a fatal flaw and a love story combined. There always seems to be a bit of a battle between good and evil too.

  8. From the get go, I modeled my book off of the Heroes Journey, The Second is the Tragedy, and the third is Redemption/Revenge.

    How does this trilogy stand out from the millions of others? Time Travel and Steampunk is one. Also I threw in Romance and Comedy. The Fatal Flaw is in there as well.

  9. I think the Engagement of the Dark Power best fits my current WIP; in my last there were elements of the Hero Hidden as the Monster.

    Great list!

  10. This is a good breakdown. Thanks for sharing it! I agree; there really aren't any new plots, just variations and a fresh infusion of characters and details.

  11. I guess I always have a divided self. For YA, I like having a love story. There's always some good triumphing over evil.

  12. Great Post, Rachna. It sure helps people like us who are not familiar with the different kinds of plots.

  13. Well, when they say nothing original is left someone inevitably comes up with something new:) Luv the pics by the way!

  14. Mine would be an Adventure Story mixed with an Entry into a New World.

    Great List!

  15. This one is going to help me a lot...thanks for sharing!

  16. Mankind not ready to properly steward something new and powerful. Enter greed and incompetence.

  17. Ooo...now that has got me thinking! Great list!