- Overcoming the Monster
- Voyage and Return
- A Quest
- Rags to Riches
Although it may seem reductive to restrict all narrative to these seven basic plots, it is actually quite instructive. Not only can you use them as building blocks, combining different plotlines in various ways, but you can keep better artistic control of your work by using similar classic stories as a guide. Knowing what’s come before and why such stories remain compelling will only help you produce more broadly appealing stories and perhaps keep you from going astray.I said that I marvel that human experience distills into so few catagories. But I realize that that is somewhat misleading. Human experience defies catagories, actually. The seven basic plot lines that Adair Jones references are are not meant to label and package human experience, per se, but rather to delineate shared cultural meaning systems that are part of the ethos of humanity--of humans living with other humans. These catagories are redemptive in a sense, for writers, because while they are templates, they are also vehicles for creativity and originality. There may be seven distinct plot templates that all writers utilize, but stories inumerable. There is always a frontier when it comes to writing a story, always uncharted territory.
What do you think? Do you find this list that Jones references helpful or appropriate, or would you add more templates to the list? How do you "story" a plot line or interpret our society's shared cultural meaning systems for your own narratives? Talk to me, peeps!