Master Plots

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

An attempt to enumerate the Ur-plots...

What qualifies a plot as a Master Plot? Hard to say. Let's take Tobias' list as a kicking off point. He contends there are twenty basic stories. Any of these can be used in genre.

  1. Quest (Christopher Booker calls this "The Quest", Blake Snyder calls it "Golden Fleece")
  2. Adventure
  3. Pursuit
  4. Rescue
  5. Escape
  6. The Riddle
  7. Rivalry
  8. Underdog (Blake Snyder calls this "The Fool Triumphant")
  9. Temptation
  10. Metamorphosis
  11. Transformation
  12. Maturation
  13. Love
  14. Forbidden Love
  15. Sacrifice
  16. Discovery
  17. Wretched Excess
  18. Vengeance
  19. Ascension
  20. Descension

from: Tobias, Ronald B. 20 Master Plots. Cincinnati: Writer's Digest Books, 1993. (ISBN 0-89879-595-8)

Compare Booker's The Seven Basic Plots and Ten Movie Plots in Snyder's Save the Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need, each of which not only enumerate the plots but also summarize them.