Friday, 15 January 2010

There Are Only 7 Stories Ever...

How I Heard About This: At university we studied the 7 basic story archetypes. Today I found a website that described them so well I had to include them here.
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Topic: Storytelling/Writing

There are apparently only seven basic plot archetypes, it is from these that almost every story ever written is derived. Any story you read or watch at the cinema will a combination of one or more of these. The descriptions are taken from the fantastic suite101 website.

* The Quest

The Quest story model revolves around a central protagonist striving to meet an all important and often far off goal. The hero cannot rest until this task has been completed. Along this journey the hero will be met with obstacles and forces trying to stop him from achieving his goal.

Examples of the this story model are The Lord of the Rings, Apocalypse Now, Raiders of the Lost Ark.

* Voyage and Return

Much like the Quest, the Voyage and Return story type is based around a journey. In this plot type the hero is transported to another world and then back again. On this journey the protagonist learns things that give him a deeper understanding of himself and the world around him.

Examples of Voyage and Return stories are Alice in Wonderland, Gulliver's Travels, Back to the Future, the Wizard of Oz.

* Rebirth

In the rebirth story type the protagonist is often cast under some dark spell either instigated by himself or an outside force. The heroes liberation can only be achieved through the actions of other good forces. In these story types the redemptive power of love can be a liberating force. What is striking about the Rebirth story type is that the protagonists imprisonment is derived from something from within his own psyche.

Examples of the Rebirth story type are A Christmas Carol, Beauty and the Beast.

* Comedy

Defining the Comedy story archetype is problematic as in modern times the term has come to mean simply anything that is funny. Therefore stories constructed from the other basic plot types have been mistakenly termed comedies.

Aristotle described comedy as showing people to be worse than they are and tragedy as showing people to be greater than they are. In the classic definition of Comedy plots the characters are thrown into a state of confusion, darkness and bewilderment where resolution can only come when these constricting factors have been played out to their extremes.

Comedy examples are All’s Well That Ends Well, When Harry Met Sally, Some Like It Hot.

* Tragedy

In Aristotelian tragedy the central character is an individual (usually of great status) who goes through a series of actions and decisions that unwittingly brings about their own downfall. This downfall is supposed to provoke feelings of pity and fear in the audience and end in a catharsis or what is sometimes called a “purging” of emotion.

Examples of Tragedy are Hamlet. Carlito’s Way, Macbeth, Oedipus the King.

* Overcoming the Monster

In Overcoming the Monster stories the hero/heroes must overcome a dark evil creature/person/entity that has exerted an evil destructive force over a place, persons or people.

Examples of this plot are The Silence of the Lambs, Dracula, Jaws, Hansel and Gretel.

* Rags to Riches

In Rags to Riches plots the central character is seemingly plucked from nothing to greatness where he/she is very often rich and of immense status. In this story type the hero very often gets quick success which is swiftly taken away from him/her. In order for him/her to return to this “rich” state the protagonist must very often defeat a foe of some kind.

Examples of this story type are Aladdin, Cinderella, Great Expectations.

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