The 7 universal story plots that still entrance audiences

Plotting the story – a common stumbling block for even the most seasoned storyteller. The options seem endless. But what if there were just 7 universal plots underpinning all stories? What if finding the right one could bring your message alive and captivate your audience every time?

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In The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories, Christopher Booker explains how our best-loved stories throughout history fall into only 7 distinct story types. He follows in a long line of theorists who have tried to explain why storytelling is such a universally powerful means of communication.

Here I’ll outline those 7 basic plots for you. This isn’t a foolproof list by any means – but just try to think of a book, film or play that doesn’t fit one of these plot types.

Overcoming the Monster

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What do Beowulf and Star Wars: A New Hope have in common? In both, the main character sets out to defeat a powerful baddie or evil force that is threatening his or her home.

Often it will seem that the odds are stacked against the hero, but their courage and resourcefulness will help them overcome the threat.

See: David and Goliath, Star Wars, Avatar.

Good for:

  • Talking about succeeding despite the odds being stacked against you
  • Discussing the life lessons that an encounter like this teaches you
  • Demonstrating how you, your team or company became stronger through adversity


Read the full article on the Sparkol blog.


The author

Ffion is a professional copywriter and proofreader. She sometimes writes about herself in the third person.