The Seven Basic Plots – Writing A Story

In his excellent book The Seven Basic Plots Christopher Booker looks at the composition of stories. He identifies the seven basic plots as; Overcoming The Monster, Rags To Riches, The Quest, Voyage And Return, Comedy, Tragedy and Rebirth. These are the basic building blocks of stories.

Some of the epic stories of our times combine many or all of the plots. For a story to gain depth and substance it needs to have several plots running alongside. Star Wars, for example, contains all of the plots. Some are more obvious than others, for example The Quest and Voyage And Return. Comedy is evident throughout, particularly in the character of C3PO.

Jaws is clearly Overcoming The Monster and The Quest. There are subtle plots in the film as well. Brody, the city cop who moves to the country for a quieter life is in awe of Quint, the shark hunter. In the early stages of The Quest he feels out of his depth and yet he survives and eventually overcomes The Monster. His joyous celebration is the start of his Rebirth as a hero. Steven Spielberg is a master of the basic plots.

The writing plot for this blog is to choose several plots and have them running alongside each other. Develop them in the first part of your story, show how they connect in the middle and bring them all together for the end.

What stories come to your mind when you think of The Seven Basic Plots?



Filed under murder mystery, Writing

9 responses to “The Seven Basic Plots – Writing A Story

  1. Interesting topic James , I am off to explore The seven basic plots.

  2. Seven basic plots. Concise. Off to follow Steven in the exploration.

    • James Coakes

      Thanks Ellen. I should add that, as with many attempts to summarise, I’m trying to encourage people to follow a route of research rather than to say ‘here’s the subject of plots summed up in a few words’. It’s an endlessly fascinating subject and Christopher Brooker gives it a much more satisfying 700 plus pages.

  3. I am a novice blogger and column writer, never written fictional stories and never researched how you do that. This was very enlightening. TYVM!

  4. Comedy as a plot? It’s more of a genre…

  5. Very interesting. I have a book called 20 master plots by Ronald Tobias which includes these and also plots like Revenge, Escape, The Riddle and Underdog. I think some of these are ‘sub plots’ rather than grand story themes though.

    It’s a fascinating subject and you always look at films in a different light once you understand it. It’s like learning to read music.

  6. Aspiring author

    I simply wish to offer you a huge thumbs up for your excellent info you have on this blog. I’m an aspiring writer and the information has been extremely helpful.

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