Monthly Archives: March 2014

The Key to a Great Story – The Basics of the ‘Seven Stories’

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The Seven Stories Centre in Newcastle upon Tyne, Great Britain, dedicated to Children's Literature. Named after the theory of the seven story types.

The Seven Stories Centre in Newcastle upon Tyne, Great Britain, dedicated to Children’s Literature. Named after the theory of the seven story types.

This post is about the basics of the different story types and how they can be helpful, but I will be posting about each one of them individually and then I will posting about how combining them can make for much more realistic and complex stories.

It is said in theory that there are seven story types; it is always a good idea to at least know which category the story you’re writing falls into. However, I would never advice that you choose a story type and try to structure a story around that type. That would just be boring.

The story has to come from you. If you already have a good idea of what you what to have happen, then how using story type can be helpful would be as an aid to structuring your plot, building tension in the right places and striving towards a conclusion. If you’re less sure about what you want your story to be about, then having a basic understanding of the different story types might give you inspiration, but it should never dictate to you what you can and can’t do with your story. Variety is what brings readers back to reading. Nobody wants to read the same story over and over again.

So, the basic story types are as follows:

  • Overcoming a threat
  • Rags to Riches
  • The Quest
  • Voyage and Return
  • Comedy
  • Tragedy
  • Rebirth

There is debate about whether there are seven types, or only three, or even as many thirty-six. The seven are the ones I’m going to focus on in my posts, but just remember, it’s your story that you want to tell. The story types are guidelines, they are not hard and fast rules.

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Puzzles that taught me how to write fiction

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For the last month or so my mind has been a complete blank when it has come to my blog. It has not been because I don’t have ideas; my brain has just forgotten how to express them of late.

I’ve also been doing a great deal of reflecting. This is I suspect because for the majority of this year I’ve actually managed to keep up with writing my diary. I don’t just end each day and forget about it the next. I sit down, usually on the commute home, and write down my thoughts.

Last week, for reasons unknown to me my mind, decided that it wanted to return to some stories that when I was about nine or ten used to capture my imagination. Amazon, apparently, is great for supplying these sort of whims.

I used to borrow from my local library on a regular basis copies from the Usborne Puzzle Adventure Book Series. On every page there was a puzzle that was included as part of the story, which you had to solve to move on with the story and clues that you needed to remember to understand the plot and answer later questions. They are great fun. I sat on Sunday morning working through ‘Escape from Blood Castle’ . Doing this I remembered how much fun I used to have, while finding a new sort of joy in revisiting the book nearly 15 years later and still having a great time.

I brought a couple of omnibuses of them so in the next couple of months I’m going to have puzzles on my mind, because I will sit with a pen and paper like I used to and enjoy myself solving problems and reading great stories.

It isn’t just a happy trip down memory lane either. These books taught me how to create a plot using cliffhangers and clues weaved together with brilliant illustration to tell an entertaining interactive story.

My plot building skills might be more honed than they used to be but for the moment I’m quite content remembering and revisiting the puzzles that taught me how to write fiction.