Much has been written, over the centuries, about what constitutes a good story. Each sage on the subject has had his or her own interpretation on how many story templates there are, and it is not the purpose of this post to go into the merits of each here. I do, however, want to suggest, for the sake of brevity and conciseness, that most stories can be accommodated within one of nine general types, or a mixture thereof. What I mean by this is that although the names, places, and finer grain of each individual story differ from those of the original, the basic structure of the narrative follows a similar pattern. Here are some influential stories that have so captured the imagination of the world that they have created story types:
1. Romeo and Juliet
Boy meets/wins/has girl, boy looses girl, or boy finds/doesn’t find girl: When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle.
Selling your soul may bring short term riches and success, but there’s always a price to be paid, leading to ruin and damnation: Wall Street, Fatal Attraction.
Dreams do come true, despite initial setbacks from wicked or opposing forces: Rocky, Pretty Woman.
The spider and the fly; the victim and the manipulator; the temptress ensnaring the love-struck, or innocent victim, often seen in film noir: Body Heat, The Postman Always Rings Twice.
The theft of something precious, either lost, or taken away; the search to redeem it, and the tragedy or success which follows it: Rain Man.
Stories about love triangles — man loves a woman, but he or she is already spoken for: Fatal Attraction.
The hero who won’t stay down; the innocent on a mission; naive optimism winning the day: Indiana Jones, Forrest Gump.
The destruction, or endangerment of an otherwise good person, because of an inherent flaw: Superman, Othello, the protagonist in film noir.
Man’s attempt to rise to the level of God, ending in tragedy and failure: Frankenstein; Icarus.
All stories follow a pattern originating from source material. Mixing and varying material from these sources accounts for the structure of most stories being told today.
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