Story Plots

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Story Plots:

Much has been written about the total number of plots out there—ranging from three to twenty, or more. Although I think that this sort of discussion is moot, if not outright silly, the actual plots that it throws up, isn’t:

1. The Pursuit: In this type of plot the chase defines the story’s structure and character relationships. The chaser(s) must have a reasonable chance of catching the chased, for this to work properly, and for tension to be maintained. (The Fugitive).

2. The Rescue: The protagonist has to rescue the victim from the antagonist by pursuing her to the ends of the earth if needs be. (Taken).

3. The Adventure: The Hero travels to strange and exotic places and experiences equally strange and exotic events. The Hero typically goes off in search of treasure, but ends up gaining true love instead/as well. (Raiders of the Lost Arc).

4. The Quest: The protagonist undertakes a journey to acquire or protect something of exceeding value. The story usually charts the character’s vicissitudes and growth during this journey. (Lord of the Rings).

5. The Temptation: This type of plot explores the concept of morality and exposes the effect of giving in to temptation. It typically involves the Hero resisting temptation, giving in to temptation, suffering the consequences of temptation, and finally achieving some sort of insight, growth, and, possibly, redemption through a sacrificial act. (Dangerous Liaisons).

6. The Revenge: The protagonist assumes the moral high ground by invoking an-eye-for-an-eye vengeance for a great wrong perpetrated by the antagonist.(The Count of Monte Christo).

7. The Rival: The Hero and antagonist are locked together in a struggle to achieve dominance over a situation or person. (Face Off).

8. The Escape: The protagonist, usually innocent of the crime or accusation, is imprisoned against his will. The plot charts the protagonist’s journey from capture, thwarted attempts to escape, and the final get-away. (The Shawshank Redemption).

9. The Underdog: Here the protagonist is seriously under gunned in his life-and-death struggle with the antagonist. The antagonist need not be a person, but a force of nature which threatens the existence of the protagonist. (Volcano, Rocky).

10. The Heist: This involves the identification and setting-up of a target to rob, the execution, the unravelling, and the resolution. (Ocean’s Eleven).

11. The Riddle: This story type sets up a difficult question, mystery, or puzzle as the driving force behind the story and invites the reader or audience to find the solution before the Hero does. Solving the puzzle requires that the protagonist use his wits and ingenuity to overcome physical as well as mental obstacles, involving self-sacrifice and the threat of death. (Sherlock Holmes).

What plot type do you think your story falls under? Is it, perhaps, a mix of two, or more? Answering these questions will help guide the development of your characters and action.

Summary

Plot types help to fashion the structure of your story by setting up certain generic expectations. This post suggests eleven such types.

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6 thoughts on “Story Plots

  1. Nelly

    Thanks Stavros for simplifying some of the plots. I have a question though related to plots. Is it possible to mix plots let’s say Revenge and The temptations for example? Sometimes I find myself lost in to 2 different plots and I don’t know if I’m doing my story justice.

    Reply
    1. Stavros Halvatzis Post author

      Hi. Yes, I think it is. You just have to decide which plot carries the theme, and is therefore dominant: Remember the theme only emerges only at the end of the final confrontation between antagonist and protagonist-he or she who wins that confrontation carries the theme, such as: Good guys finish last/first…to be simplistic. Have you looked at Dangerous Liaisons recently? That film might well prove instructive!

      Reply

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