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Christopher Booker's Seven Basic Plots

Christopher Booker's Seven Basic Plots

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Published by: Druane on Jul 29, 2010
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Christopher Booker's Seven Basic Plots1 - "Overcoming the Monster."It is found in countless stories from The Epic of Gilgamesh and Little Red RidingHood to James Bond films such as Dr. No. This tale of conflict typically recountsthe hero's ordeals, an escape from death, and ends with a community or the worlditself saved from evil. Jaws. 2 - "Rags to Riches."He places in this category Cinderella, The Ugly Duckling, David Copperfield, andother stories that tell of modest, downtrodden characters whose special talents or  beauty are at last revealed to the world for a happy ending. 3 - "Quest," [perhaps 3 and 4 are related to Epic and Fantasy- DR]Which features a hero, normally joined by sidekicks, travelling the world andfighting to overcome evil and secure a priceless treasure (or in the case of Odysseus,wife and hearth). The hero not only gains the treasure he seeks, but also the girl, andthey end as King and Queen. Related to this is Booker's fourth category,4 - "Voyage and Return,"exemplified by Robinson Crusoe, Alice in Wonderland, and The Time Machine. The protagonist leaves normal experience to enter an alien world, returning after whatoften amounts to a thrilling escape. 5 - "Comedy,"Booker suggests, confusion reigns until at last the hero and heroine are united inlove.6 - "Tragedy" portrays human overreaching and its terrible consequences. The last of the plots of his initial list is 7 - "Rebirth,"which centers on characters such as Dickens's Scrooge, Snow White, andDostoyevsky's Raskolnikov. To this useful system he unexpectedly adds at the end of his book two more plots: 8 - "Rebellion"to cover the likes of Nineteen Eighty-Four and 9 - "Mystery"for the recent invention of the detective novel.
The Basic Meta-plot
Most of the meta-plots are variations on the following pattern:
 Anticipation Stage
The call to adventure, and the promise of what is to come.
Dream Stage
The heroine or hero experiences some initial success - everything seems to be going well, sometimes with a dreamlike sense of invincibility.
Frustration Stage
First confrontation with the real enemy. Things begin to go wrong.
Nightmare Stage
 At the point of maximum dramatic tension, disaster has erupted and it seems allhope is lost.
The hero or heroine is eventually victorious, and may also be united or reunited with their ‘other half’ (a romantic partner).There are some parallels with Campbell’s Heroic Monomyth, but his pattern is moreapplicable to mythology than to stories in general.
Overcoming the Monster (and the Thrilling Escape from Death)
Perseus, Theseus, Beowulf, Dracula, War of the Worlds, Nicholas Nickleby, TheGuns of Navarone, Seven Samurai/The Magnificent Seven, James Bond, Star Wars: A New Hope.Meta-plot structure:1.Anticipation Stage (The Call)2.Dream Stage (Initial Success)3.Frustration Stage (Confrontation)4.Nightmare Stage (Final Ordeal)5.Miraculous Escape (Death of the Monster)
Rags to Riches
Cinderella, Aladdin, Jane Eyre, Great Expectations, David Copperfield
 Dark Version:
Le Rouge et Le Noir (1831), What Makes Sammy Run? (1940)Meta-plot structure:1.Initial Wretchedness at Home (The Call)2.Out into the World (Initial Success)3.The Central Crisis4.Independence (Final Ordeal)5.Final Union, Completion and Fulfilment
The Quest
The Odyssey, Pilgrim’s Progress, King Solomon’s Mines, Watership DownMeta-plot structure:1.The Call (Oppressed in the City of Destruction)2.The Journey (Ordeals of the Hero/Heroine & Companions)May include some or all of the following:a. Monsters b. Temptationsc. The Deadly Oppositesd. The Journey to the Underworld3.Arrival and Frustration4.The Final Ordeals5.The Goal (Kingdom, Other Half or Elixir won)
 Voyage & Return
Alice in Wonderland, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Orpheus, The TimeMachine, Peter Rabbit, Brideshead Revisited, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Gone withthe Wind, The Third Man (1948)Meta-plot structure:1.Anticipation Stage (‘Fall’ into the Other World)2.Initial Fascination (Dream Stage)

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