1. Ferret
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    Ferret Contributing Member

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    The parts of your soul you refuse to recognize.

    Tewnty different Plots?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Ferret, Dec 10, 2006.

    So I'm sitting in emglish class dicussing The most dangerous game and my english teacher says that there are/is only about twenty different plots out there to be used in stories? Is that true?
     
  2. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I am not sure of the number, 18, 20, 28 or 32, but I've read somewhere that there are a limited number of basic plots. It's the details, characters, and twists that makes each story different.

    Terry
     
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    there are only 3 basic plots... and they were painted on their authors' cave walls, long, long ago...

    they are:

    man vs man
    man vs god [includes nature]
    man vs self

    everything written since, is merely creative plagiarism ;-)
     
  4. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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  5. Hellbent
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    Hellbent Senior Member

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    what about man vs Alcohol or...woman vs toddler in shopping mart or how about that game Rock, paper scissors that would make a good 3 hour movie.
     
  6. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Your examples?
    That's easy:

    man vs self (battling addiction)
    man vs man (two humans against one another)
    man vs man (again in competition) but anyone watching it would definately result in man vs boredom :D

    Terry
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    tw...i meant to delete 'themes' and leave only 'plot'... sorry... will correct that now...
     
  8. Hellbent
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    Hellbent Senior Member

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    Yeah, man vs. boredom, that's my ongoing battle. laugh, laugha laughalot
     
  9. Daniel
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    Daniel I'm sure you've heard the rumors. Founder Staff Contributor

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    Just echoing, but

    man verses man
    man verses god/nature &
    man verses self

    are the three classic plots you can use in a story.
     
  10. Spherical Time
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    Spherical Time Contributing Member

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    Some science fiction writers contend that there is at least one more: man vs. other (machine, alien, paradox)

    I'm not sure I agree, but I can't completely satisfy myself with the three that mamma lists either.
     
  11. zerobytes
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    zerobytes Contributing Member

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    It has been said in like six different posts here but those are the three possible conflicts. As for plots...hm....those sit on top of the conflicts. I'm thinking of something like
    Guy gets girl, guy loses girl, guy wins girl back. (man vs. man, I know) but there could also be other conflicts in the same story - guy loses girl to best friend (man vs. man again), they duke it out and the last man standing gets the girl (Like that AWFUL movie pearl harbor blech

    OR Bad guy threatens entire civilization, one hero can save it. (Man vs. man) But our hero struggles with a strong attraction to the power of darkness (man vs. self) see Lord of The Rings and Star Wars

    How about, coming of age. (Man vs. Self) A young, but talented character has to learn his place in the world. But what if then another bully character is jealous of our MC's growth (you have man vs. man too).

    Cataclysm. One man/woman or a group of people have to stop something that is going to destroy earth (man vs. nature/God) - but there's plenty of space for warring earthly factions (man vs. man) or someone who is struggling with fear (man vs. self).

    As in The Most Dangerous Game (which is a GREAT short story btw - I never fully appreciated it in HS), you have a cat and mouse sorta plot (man vs. man). Same thing in The Man with the Golden Gun, which might as well be called Bond's Most Dangerous Game. Anyway, this is also the plot in a lot of crime/thrillers like Se7en or Saw. One brain against another (man vs. man again).

    SO - you could come up with a bunch of scenarios and, like Terry said, these scenarios need details characters and CONFLICT to make them interesting but most of them will fall into a formulaic plot (probably something like 20).

    I'd be interested to read the full list that your teacher is referring to. Any chance you could get it out of him/her and post it here?

    zb
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    lp... btw, it's 'versus'... latin for 'against'...

    man vs machine would be man vs self, if man created it

    man vs alien would be man vs man [aliens being merely another version of 'man']

    man vs paradox would be man vs god [which includes nature]
     
  13. Hellbent
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    Hellbent Senior Member

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    or what about the story of luuv- you know, like the Notebook. Actually I've never seen that movie, but I beleive it's about luv.

    And why is it all about man. Why isn't there a girl or a prostitue in there somewhere. Or how about the story of birth?

    Here we go:prostitute vs birth vs drug addiction vs struggling relationship with mom?

    Nothing to do with men and it'd make an entertaining story...but I guess...because it's all set in a man's world?

    Oooh, does that one still piss you off ladies?

    Ah, don't worry, I don't think like that. I saw a 14 year old girl backflip a 125cc dirt bike and my views on females are much stronger now.
     
  14. Robert
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    Robert Banned

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    This is a question that comes up quite often. Here's a couple of links:

    TSA Writing Tips - Twenty Basic Plots:
    http://www.tennscreen.com/plots.htm

    The Straight Dope - what are the seven basic literary plots:
    http://www.straightdope.com/columns/001124.html

    Christopher Booker wrote a hefty book on The Seven Basic Plots, which he considers to be:

    - overcoming the monster
    - rags to riches
    - the quest
    - voyage and return
    - comedy
    - tragedy
    - rebirth

    Whether you agree with his choice of seven or not (and there doesn't seem to be universal agreement on any particular number) I think it's a pretty interesting book.

    Cheers,
    Rob
     
  15. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    would come under 'man vs man' or 'man vs self'

    'man' is simply the accepted collective term for mankind... the entire human race, which naturally includes women, girls, etc....

    could be either 'man vs man' or man vs god' depending on your beliefs...

    clearly, an amalgamation of two, or all three...

    if you're looking for a fight, you're just being silly... i can't imagine anyone past the age of 12 or so, who wouldn't know that 'man' = 'mankind'...

    i'm so happy for you both! ;-)
     
  16. Spherical Time
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    Spherical Time Contributing Member

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    I disagree with the first two here, but agree with the third.

    That's an interesting link.
     

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