Understanding and Harnessing The Power of The Seven Basic Plots

Introduction of The Seven Basic Plots

Storytelling is an integral part of human history and the fabric of our societies. Since time immemorial, we’ve spun tales to teach, entertain, and inspire. Amidst this multitude of narratives, there lie the Seven Basic Plots: Overcoming the Monster, Rags to Riches, The Quest, Voyage and Return, Comedy, Tragedy, and Rebirth. Each of these plots resonates deeply within us, often transcending cultures and generations.

1. Overcoming the Monster

Overcoming the Monster is a universal narrative where the protagonist confronts and defeats a formidable adversary, often in the form of an evil force or beast. From ancient Greek mythology’s Hercules fighting the Hydra to modern blockbusters like ‘Jaws’ and Star Wars, this plot revolves around courage, survival, and triumph over seemingly invincible odds. It signifies the struggle of good versus evil, leading to an ultimate showdown where good prevails.

2. Rags to Riches

The story of Rags to Riches captivates hearts worldwide. It’s about transformational growth where the protagonist born in adversity, and through their determination, resilience, and a touch of destiny, reaches heights of success. Immortalized by the tales of Cinderella, Aladdin, and Harry Potter, this plot holds a message of hope and the inexorable spirit of dreamers.

3. The Quest

The essential element of The Quest plot is the hero’s journey towards a specific goal or desire. Whether it’s Frodo Baggins’ journey to destroy the ring in ‘The Lord of The Rings’ or Dorothy’s voyage to return home in ‘The Wizard of Oz’, this plot encapsulates bravery, friendship, and sacrifice. The protagonist often undergoes an internal transformation mirroring the external journey.

4. Voyage and Return

Voyage and Return stories send the protagonist to a strange, often fantastical world. Their journey is marked by trials, adventures, and the essential journey to return home. Alice’s picaresque journey in Wonderland aptly highlights this plot where she comes back enriched by her experiences.

5. Comedy

An intricate web of misunderstanding, miscommunication, and mistaken identities fuels the Comedy plot often leading to hilarious outcomes. Comedy revolves around benign mismatches, resulting in laughter, resolution, and harmony. Aristophanes, the ancient Greek playwright, popularized this style, following which authors like Oscar Wilde have continued the tradition.

6. Tragedy

A Tragedy plot explores the downfall of the protagonist whose flaw, hubris, or fate leads them to a sorrowful end. Shakespearean tragedies such as ‘Romeo and Juliet’ or ‘Macbeth’ embody this form, specifically the legendary playwright’s adept exploration of the human condition, misfortune, and the eventual fall of great individuals.

7. Rebirth

Stories of Rebirth discuss transformation, redemption, and the power of love. The protagonist often undergoes a metamorphosis triggered by love, self-realization, or supernatural intervention. Films like ‘A Christmas Carol’ and ‘Beauty and the Beast’ outline this plot, revealing the cathartic journey of change and redemption.

Harnessing the Power of The Seven Basic Plots

Every story we tell or consume can be distilled into these seven archetypal stories or a combination of them. Whether we’re authors, marketers, or educators, understanding the Seven Basic Plots provides us with tools to craft compelling narratives, to connect on a primal level, and to convey ideas that spark passion and intrigue.


The power of the Seven Basic Plots lies in their universality and their ability to resonate with our shared human experience. Storytelling is the innate language of humankind, and these archetypes provide us with a valuable framework to inform, inspire, and influence. Whether it’s Hercules or Harry Potter, these timeless plots and their themes continue to captivate our imagination and remain integral to the world of storytelling.

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