Welcome to How to Keep Writing Wednesdays, where you'll find a boost of encouragement to help you keep the words flowing.
The Seven Wonders of Storytelling
You know the old joke about how there’s really only one fruitcake in the world and it keeps getting passed around? It reminds me of a similar saying about how there are only seven original stories in the world.
That’s right: only seven.
For Christopher Booker, author of The Seven Basic Plots, it looks something like this:
Overcoming the Monster. Also known as good versus evil.
Rags to Riches. From having nothing to getting everything.
The Quest. The classic journey in search of something.
Voyage and Return. Full circle. A take-off of my favorite C.S. Lewis quote about returning to the place where you started and knowing it for the first time.
Comedies. Also known as happily-ever-afters.
Tragedies. The opposite of comedies. Does not tend to end well.
Rebirth. A character is fundamentally changed.
If there are only seven types of stories out there, you would think readers would become bored with the same old plot lines. After all, it’s usually clear from the first few pages what kind of story it’s going to be. If you’re a romance reader, you know the heroine’s going to get her man. If you like shoot-’em-up-thrillers, you know the hero is going to save the day. Any character embarking on a quest is going to find what he (or she) is looking for. Good will eventually conquer evil. We know how these stories are going to end and yet we keep reading anyway.
This is good news for anyone who thinks they have a great story in mind. It means that you can reinvent the wheel—you’ll just be putting your own special spin on it. You can make the writing original, even if the story of Romeo and Juliet has been done before, because you’ll do it differently. It’s not what you write, it’s how you write about it.
What kind of story are you writing? Does it fall into one of these categories?