Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Plot Patterns

Maybe you don't want to outline or write by the seat of your pants. There's another option, Plot Patterns. There are basic patterns in stories that become foundations for building new stories on. Some sources say there are 3 others say there are 36 such patterns.

So if you're looking for a pattern you might use to springboard your writing in a new direction browse these lists:

The Quest: Main Character is seeking some object or an abstract concept (knowledge...) Example: Raiders of the Lost Ark

The Pursuit: Main Character literally follow, chases or pursues an object or another person. Example: The Hunt for Red October

The Contest: Main Character has a rival in a struggle to see who will succeed or survive. Example: The Perfect Storm (right, the rival doesn't have to be human).

The Romance: Main Character has an obstacle to hooking up with a would-be lover. Example: Romeo  & Juliet

The Revenge: Main Character seeks revenge. Example: Hamlet

The Mystery: Main Character must solve a puzzle by collecting and interpreting clues. Example: Any Agatha Christie

The Surprise: Huge twist at the end surprises the reader.

Gozzi's list of Plot Patterns looks like this:

  1. Supplication (in which the Supplicant must beg something from Power in authority)
  2. Deliverance
  3. Crime Pursued by Vengeance
  4. Vengeance taken for kindred upon kindred
  5. Pursuit
  6. Disaster
  7. Falling Prey to Cruelty of Misfortune
  8. Revolt
  9. Daring Enterprise
  10. Abduction
  11. The Enigma (temptation or a riddle)
  12. Obtaining
  13. Enmity of Kinsmen
  14. Rivalry of Kinsmen
  15. Murderous Adultery
  16. Madness
  17. Fatal Imprudence
  18. Involuntary Crimes of Love (example: discovery that one has married one’s mother, sister, etc.)
  19. Slaying of a Kinsman Unrecognized
  20. Self-Sacrificing for an Ideal
  21. Self-Sacrifice for Kindred
  22. All Sacrificed for Passion
  23. Necessity of Sacrificing Loved Ones
  24. Rivalry of Superior and Inferior
  25. Adultery
  26. Crimes of Love
  27. Discovery of the Dishonor of a Loved One
  28. Obstacles to Love
  29. An Enemy Loved
  30. Ambition
  31. Conflict with a God
  32. Mistaken Jealousy
  33. Erroneous Judgement
  34. Remorse
  35. Recovery of a Lost One
  36. Loss of Loved Ones

Anything sound like your next story?


Kurt Kammeyer said...

You can find most of these in the ancient sagas, as well. Read any Norse saga, and you'll likely find the whole laundry list included.

Janiera said...

I did this same thing with my recent novel! I never outline but sketch out my main thoughts just like this and it made keeping up with my thoughts a lot easier. Thanks for the article!

Alice said...

Thanks for sharing these. ONe of my novels is a quest. I"m not sure what the other one is ,maybe a combination of mystery/self-sacrifice/and recover of a lost one?

Jayrod Garrett said...

I like this as a list for folks who are more pansing oriented than I am. Thanks for sharing this. I think I'll refer back to it on my blog so folks can find some more resources for writing. Thanks so much.