Seven Plots


Booker proposes only seven plots in his Seven Basic Plots (Booker, 2005) The book provides an analysis of stories’ plot structures and their psychological meanings, attempting to distill all of storytelling down to a few archetypes.

Overcoming the monster

The hero learns of a great threat and sets out to defeat it. The monster (Possibly in the title) is the real star ‘Dracula’, ‘Alien’or’Terminator’.


He defines tragedy as the ‘Overcoming the monster’ plot, from point of view of the monster’s. He sees the  protagonist as the villain, and we see them descend from power to defeat, freeing the world from their evil influence. Macbeth  for instance is said to be the flawed villain.


Similar to the tragedy plot, but the villain sees the error of their ways and becomes a better person, saving them self from destruction while also having an influence on the world at large.  An enabler such as a child (Tiny Tim) might cause the moment of redemption.(‘A Christmas Carol’).

Rags to riches

Starting at the bottom and working their way through suppression/ ridicule/ disability to reach success/ wealth/ happiness. The ugly duckling becomes a swan so this applies to tangible and metaphysical assets.


Much like the quest the incomplete hero passes through a variety of challenges returning a better/ wiser/alive. For example Bilbo in ‘The Hobbit’.


Comedies may or not be full of laughs  laughs. They are stories in which characters become entangled in a complex plot full of obstacles and confusion, but with a happy ending. ‘Shakespeare in Love’ may fall into this.


Useful as a top level classification one feels that many narratives will need subclassifications to be meaningful. Tragedy seems a bit laboured and are not villains always flawed?

Not sure how useful these classifications are to me. To be useful as shorthand for treatments, picking and proposals they must be well known and accepted. Are they? They appear in the iWonder series (BBC ,2016) so maybe.

For my own work I am going to use Todorov’s theories.


BBC (2016) Overcoming the monster throughout history. Available at: (Accessed: 23 April 2016).

Booker, C. (2005) The seven basic plots: Why we tell stories. London: Continuum International Publishing Group

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