Christopher Booker the writer and journalist suggested that in story telling there are only seven basic plots

  1. Overcoming the Monster
  2. Rags to Riches
  3. The Quest
  4. Voyage and Return
  5. Comedy
  6. Tragedy
  7. Rebirth

This is somewhat less than an eighteenth century Italian playwright, Carlos Gozzi suggested; he said there were 36 dramatic situations, and these were expanded by Georges Polti in the nineteenth century:

  1. Supplication
  2. Deliverance
  3. Crime pursued by vengeance
  4. Vengeance taken for kin upon kin
  5. Pursuit
  6. Disaster
  7. Falling prey to cruelty/misfortune
  8. Revolt
  9. Daring enterprise
  10. Abduction
  11. The enigma
  12. Obtaining
  13. Enmity of kin
  14. Rivalry of kin
  15. Murderous adultery
  16. Madness
  17. Fatal imprudence
  18. Involuntary crimes of love.
  19. Slaying of kin unrecognized
  20. Self-sacrifice for an ideal
  21. Self-sacrifice for kin
  22. All sacrificed for passion
  23. Necessity of sacrificing loved ones
  24. Rivalry of superior vs. inferior
  25. Adultery
  26. Crimes of love
  27. Discovery of the dishonour of a loved one.
  28. Obstacles to love
  29. An enemy loved
  30. Ambition
  31. Conflict with a god
  32. Mistaken jealousy
  33. Erroneous judgement
  34. Remorse
  35. Recovery of a lost one
  36. Loss of loved ones

…but Mr Booker has somewhat more plots than Matthew Jockers who suggests there are basically two, within which there are variation, ‘The man on the hill’, and ‘The man in a hole’ .

I guess if I had more time I might look at my own stories and decide where they fall in these three different ideas… but i’m too busy actually writing!

Her is a link to Christopher Booker’s book, The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories:


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