Sunday, June 4, 2023
Saturday, May 14, 2022
by Gary Fearon
If you're a writer who's been on Facebook or
YouTube, you've probably been presented with a video ad for Ron Howard's
Master Class on Directing. In the promo, he makes reference to a theory held by
some that there are "seven stories". I thought we might briefly
explore those seven story lines from which most tales spring forth.
Overcoming the Monster
Not always a literal monster, but a major threat to our hero, who takes up the challenge to destroy it.
Rags to Riches
An underdog overcomes the odds to become top dog.
Our hero must find a treasure of great value, and embarks on a journey to find it.
Voyage and Return
Our hero lands in a place unlike home and must learn new rules to prevail. Eventually he/she returns home better than before.
A goal is impeded by funny obstacles. Often, if the main obstacle is a person, they get a come-uppance in the end.
Our hero is his own worst enemy, with qualities that lead to his downfall.
The ultimate character arc, in which the hero transforms into a new being, literally or figuratively.
In reading these, you may have already assessed that many stories contain more than one of these plots, and you'd be correct. For example, isn't The Wizard of Oz a quest for a treasure as well as a voyage to a strange world? Booker himself acknowledges the frequent overlap of two or more of these plots, and even mentions two more which he considers less common:
The hero rebels but ultimately surrenders to, and perhaps joins, the powers that be.
The hero seeks to discover the truth of a murder or other unexplained event.
Some writers feel that lumping stories into
categorized plots is disrespecting their originality. Others feel that there
are as many as 25 plots, not merely seven. Ron Howard implies that there is
just one, but we may have to buy his Master Class to
learn what that is.
The fact that we can think of our favorite movies or books and see how they fit into one or more of these story lines is testament to their enduring effectiveness and popularity. Could you possibly insert your hero's name into one of these seven plots and refine it into the logline for your next novel? Your own creativity will make the time-tested tale uniquely yours.
Saturday, February 23, 2019
|The real Queen Anne (well, a painting)|
|The actual Anthony Vallelonga ("Tony Lip") and Don Shirley|
Saturday, December 22, 2018
Tuesday, January 23, 2018
If the golden rule of writing is to do unto other writers as you would have them do unto you, that's a pretty easy assignment. It could be summed up thusly: good will, good wishes, and a good plug.
The majority of authors are expected to do most, if not all, of their own publicity. So it's a helpful shot in the arm when a fellow author offers their endorsement. When someone says, "So-and-so's new mystery is a page-turner I stayed up all last night to read," that's a convincing testimonial.
We all spend time propping up our platforms, building our branding, and staying savvy with social media. We sometimes ...
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Thursday, June 1, 2017
A little friendly competition can be a good thing
Wordsmiths readily draw inspiration from other wordsmiths. The Beatles' Rubber Soul album (1965) motivated The Beach Boy's Brian Wilson to create their most ambitious album, Pet Sounds (1966). Then, after hearing Pet Sounds, Paul McCartney set out to create ...
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Tuesday, May 16, 2017
Having recently attended the funeral of a former professor, a writer friend was exhibiting a more philosophical side of himself than I usually get to see. His contemplations led us to the question:
If you knew you had only a year to live, how would you spend it?
I think most of us would share some of the same answers. We'd make sure our affairs were in order. We'd express our love and thanks to the people who've meant something to us. We may travel to some place we've always wanted to go.
I'd like to take that question a step further and ask:
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