The Key to a Great Story – The Basics of Plot

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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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