Action (Disaster): Stories whose central struggle plays out mainly through a clash of physical forces.
48 Hours Face/Off Die Hard Air Force One Jurassic Park Lethal Weapon
Return of the Jedi (also Science Fiction)Speed (also a Thriller) Titanic (also a Love story) The Terminator True Lies Twister
Adventure: Stories whose central struggle plays out mainly through encounters with new "worlds."
Apollo 13 The Deep Get Shorty (extraordinary blend of Gangster, Love, and Crime with a twist) Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (also an Action picture)
Little Big Man (Also Epic/Myth)Lawrence of Arabia Quest For Fire Rain Man Robinson Crusoe Water World
Comedy: Stories whose central struggle causes hilarious results.
Ace Ventura, Pet Detective (also Adventure - the name gives it away) Analyze This Annie Hall Bowfinger French Kiss Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (also Fantasy)
My Best Friend's Wedding Nine to Five Shakespeare in Love The Spy Who Shagged Me When Harry Met Sally Working Girl (also Love Story)
Coming-of-Age Drama: Stories whose central struggle is about the hero finding his or her place in the world.
American Beauty American Graffiti The Breakfast Club The Graduate The Last Picture Show The Lion King My Brilliant Career The Paper Chase Pretty In Pink
Rebel Without a Cause Risky Business Saturday Night Fever Shakespeare in Love (also Romantic Comedy)Splendor in the Grass Top Gun (also Action)The Water Boy (also Comedy)
Crime:Stories whose central struggle is about catching a criminal.
48 Hours Basic Instinct Fargo French Connection Ghost (also Love and Thriller) L.A.Confidential
Patriot Games Pulp Fiction (Also Black Comedy, Bends the Genre a lot))The Sting The Untouchables
Detective Story/Courtroom Drama: Stories whose central struggle is to find out what really happened and thus to expose the truth.
Caine Mutiny Chinatown Death and the Maiden A Few Good Men The General's Daughter Inherit the Wind
The Maltese Falcon Philadelphia Rear Window A Time to Kill The Verdict Vertigo
Epic/Myth: Stories whose central struggle plays out in the midst of a clash of great forces or in the sweep of great historical change.
Apocalypse Now The Birth of a Nation Bridge on the River Kwai Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid Ghandi The Godfather
Gone With the Wind The Grapes of Wrath Lawrence of Arabia (also Adventure) Star Wars The Ten Commandments
Fantasy:Stories which are animated, or whose central struggle plays out in two worlds - the "real" world and an imaginary world.
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court Alice in Wonderland Antz Big Ghostbusters Heaven Can Wait
Mary Poppins The Mask Peter Pan Snow White Toy Story The Wizard of Oz Who Killed Roger Rabbit?
Gangster: Stories whose central struggle is between a criminal and society. A cautionary tale, rooted in a main character who commits crimes (This genre is often blended with Film Noir).
Badlands Bonnie and Clyde Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid Dead End Dead Man Walking The Godfather (also Epic/Myth)
Goodfellas La Femme Nikita M. Out of Sight (also Love Story)Sling Blade The Usual Suspects
Horror: Stories whose central struggle focuses on escaping from and eventually defeating a Monster (either human or non-human).
Alien The Blair Witch Project Friday the Thirteenth Halloween I Know What You Did Last Summer It's Alive
King Kong Nightmare on Elm Street Psycho Scream Tremors
Love (Romance): Stories whose central struggle is between two people who each want to win or keep the love of the other.
Annie Hall As Good As It Gets Casablanca (also Epic/Myth)Ghost The Graduate It Happened One Night
Mickey Blue Eyes Notting Hill Pretty Woman Roman Holiday The Way We Were Wuthering Heights
Science Fiction: Stories whose central struggle is generated from the technology and tools of a scientifically imaginable world.
2001 A Space Odyssey Back to the Future Blade Runner (also Crime)ET: The Extra Terrestrial The Fifth Element Gattaca
The Sixth Sense Stargate Star Wars (and all the sequels or prequels) The Terminator Twelve Monkeys
Social Drama: Stories whose central struggle is between a Champion and a problem or injustice in society. Usually the Champion has a personal stake in the outcome of the struggle.
A Civil Action Dead Man Walking Dr Strangelove Grapes of Wrath Kramer Vs Kramer
Network Philadelphia (also Courtroom Drama)Schindler's List To Kill a Mockingbird
Thriller: Stories whose central struggle pits an innocent hero against a lethal enemy who is out to kill him or her.
The Net No Way Out North by Northwest (also Love Story)Sleeping With the Enemy
Night of the Hunter Three Days of the Condor Wait Until Dark Witness (also Love Story)
Other Types of Movies: There obviously are many other groupings that might be constructed. Discussing genres of movies might just be a way of describing the history of moviemaking - a method of grouping motion pictures for whatever convenient need arises for whatever individual or group. Without trying to define them, I'm listing here a number of other possible types.
The Art Film: Not a preferred Hollywood Type. HOWEVER -- the acceleration of cheaper video-to-film technology makes this an interesting potential genre to look at for the future.
The Black Comedy: A comedy that uses death and morbid doings as the root of its humor. Surfaces regularly. Most recent incarnations, Very Bad Things and Pulp Fiction.
The Buddy Movie: Not a distinctive genre. Really describes a vehicle for two stars of relatively equal importance, although one of them is usually the main character. Redford and Newman are the most well known pairing from the recent past.
When these types of films work, they can be a cash cow for the studios; for example, the "road" films of Bing Crosby and Bob Hope, the musicals of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, the wacky doings of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, Abbot and Costello, etc. In today's market there is probably a pent-up appetite for female pairings, witness the phenomenal success of Thelma and Louise (despite the sour "downer" ending -- somebody took the ending of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid too seriously. They should have checked out The Sting).
The Film Noir: From the standpoint of the way I prefer to define a "genre" -- that is, defining the genre according to the nature of the central struggle -- this type of film is more of a stylistic categorization. Even so, the typical black and light patterns, the dark shadows, the penchant for cynicism and irony, the use of the dark side of human behavior, these elements still have a potent appeal for a large segment of the moviegoing audience.
The Ghost Story: Obvious from its title, needs no definition. This type of story, popular in the past, has been somewhat supplanted by the horror genre. Interesting to us writers for its resurgence with a twist in the Demi Moore thriller Ghost. Testament to the writer's imagination.
The Heist (or Caper): Sort of a "cross-categorization." An intricately planned theft by a group of people. Examples: Ocean's Eleven, The Thomas Crown Affair, The Great Train Robbery, and more recently, one of the genres in The Usual Suspects.
The Picaresque: An episodic string of adventures by a hero who moves from place to place. Stellar example, Tom Jones, and more recently,Forrest Gump.
Other obvious types:
The Historical Drama The Musical The Western
So, enough analysis of genre. Try to settle on a mix of two genres for your story. To start with, that is. Keep the possibility open that you might be able to spice up your story with little bits of a third genre, but -- proceed with caution. As an old Hollywood pro once growled at me, "More than two genres is a mess."
Select an icon or film genre category below, read about the development and history of the genre, and view chronological lists of selected, representative greatest films for each one (with links to detailed descriptions of individual films).
Action films usually include high energy, big-budget physical stunts and chases, possibly with rescues, battles, fights, escapes, destructive crises (floods, explosions, natural disasters, fires, etc.), non-stop motion, spectacular rhythm and pacing, and adventurous, often two-dimensional 'good-guy' heroes (or recently, heroines) battling 'bad guys' - all designed for pure audience escapism. Includes the James Bond 'fantasy' spy/espionage series, martial arts films, and so-called 'blaxploitation' films. A major sub-genre is the disaster film. See also Greatest Disaster and Crowd Film Scenes and Greatest Classic Chase Scenes in Films.
Adventure films are usually exciting stories, with new experiences or exotic locales, very similar to or often paired with the actionfilm genre. They can include traditional swashbucklers, serialized films, and historical spectacles (similar to the epics film genre), searches or expeditions for lost continents, "jungle" and "desert" epics, treasure hunts, disaster films, or searches for the unknown.
Comedies are light-hearted plots consistently and deliberately designed to amuse and provoke laughter (with one-liners, jokes, etc.) by exaggerating the situation, the language, action, relationships and characters. This section describes various forms of comedy through cinematic history, including slapstick, screwball, spoofs and parodies, romantic comedies, black comedy (dark satirical comedy), and more. See this site's Funniest Film Moments and Scenes collection - illustrated, and also Premiere Magazine's50 Greatest Comedies of All Time.
Crime (gangster) films are developed around the sinister actions of criminals or mobsters, particularly bankrobbers, underworld figures, or ruthless hoodlums who operate outside the law, stealing and murdering their way through life. Criminal and gangster films are often categorized as film noir or detective-mystery films - because of underlying similarities between these cinematic forms. This category includes a description of various 'serial killer' films.
Dramas are serious, plot-driven presentations, portraying realistic characters, settings, life situations, and stories involving intense character development and interaction. Usually, they are not focused on special-effects, comedy, or action, Dramatic films are probably the largest film genre, with many subsets. See also melodramas,epics (historical dramas), or romantic genres. Dramatic biographical films (or "biopics") are a major sub-genre, as are 'adult' films (with mature subject content).
Epics include costume dramas, historical dramas, war films, medieval romps, or 'period pictures' that often cover a large expanse of time set against a vast, panoramic backdrop. Epics often share elements of the elaborate adventure films genre. Epics take an historical or imagined event, mythic, legendary, or heroic figure, and add an extravagant setting and lavish costumes, accompanied by grandeur and spectacle, dramatic scope, high production values, and a sweeping musical score. Epics are often a more spectacular, lavish version of a biopic film. Some 'sword and sandal' films (Biblical epics or films occuring during antiquity) qualify as a sub-genre.
Horror films are designed to frighten and to invoke our hidden worst fears, often in a terrifying, shocking finale, while captivating and entertaining us at the same time in a cathartic experience. Horror films feature a wide range of styles, from the earliest silent Nosferatu classic, to today's CGI monsters and deranged humans. They are often combined with science fiction when the menace or monster is related to a corruption of technology, or when Earth is threatened by aliens. The fantasy and supernatural film genres are not usually synonymous with the horror genre. There are many sub-genres of horror: slasher, teen terror, serial killers, satanic, Dracula, Frankenstein, etc. See this site's Scariest Film Moments and Scenes collection - illustrated.
Musical/dance films are cinematic forms that emphasize full-scale scores or song and dance routines in a significant way (usually with a musical or dance performance integrated as part of the film narrative), or they are films that are centered on combinations of music, dance, song or choreography. Major subgenres include the musical comedy or the concert film. See this site'sGreatest Musical Song/Dance Movie Moments and Scenescollection - illustrated.
Sci-fi films are often quasi-scientific, visionary and imaginative - complete with heroes, aliens, distant planets, impossible quests, improbable settings, fantastic places, great dark and shadowy villains, futuristic technology, unknown and unknowable forces, and extraordinary monsters ('things or creatures from space'), either created by mad scientists or by nuclear havoc. They are sometimes an offshoot of fantasy films, or they share some similarities with action/adventure films. Science fiction often expresses the potential of technology to destroy humankind and easily overlaps with horror films, particularly when technology or alien life forms become malevolent, as in the "Atomic Age" of sci-fi films in the 1950s.
War (and anti-war) films acknowledge the horror and heartbreak of war, letting the actual combat fighting (against nations or humankind) on land, sea, or in the air provide the primary plot or background for the action of the film. War films are often paired with other genres, such as action, adventure, drama, romance, comedy (black), suspense, and even epics and westerns, and they often take a denunciatory approach toward warfare. They may include POW tales, stories of military operations, and training. See this site's Greatest War Movies (in multiple parts).
Westerns are the major defining genre of the American film industry - a eulogy to the early days of the expansive American frontier. They are one of the oldest, most enduring genres with very recognizable plots, elements, and characters (six-guns, horses, dusty towns and trails, cowboys, Indians, etc.). Over time, westerns have been re-defined, re-invented and expanded, dismissed, re-discovered, and spoofed.
I've found the Enneagrams to be very useful in building the motivations of characters.
One: Reformer, Critic, Perfectionist [Anger]. This type focuses on integrity. Ones can be wise, discerning and inspiring in their quest for the truth. They also tend to dissociate themselves from their flaws and can become hypocritical and hyper-critical of others, seeking the illusion of virtue to hide their own vices. The One's greatest fear is to be flawed and their ultimate goal is perfection.
Two: Helper, Giver, Caretaker [Pride]. Twos, at their best, are compassionate, thoughtful and astonishingly generous; they can also be prone to passive-aggressive behavior, clinginess and manipulation. Twos want, above all, to be loved and needed and fear being unworthy of love.
Three: Achiever, Performer, Succeeder [Deceit]. Highly adaptable and changeable. Some walk the world with confidence and unstinting authenticity; others wear a series of public masks, acting the way they think will bring them approval and losing track of their true self. Threes fear being worthless and strive to be worthwhile.
Four: Romantic, Individualist, Artist [Envy]. Driven by a fear that they have no identity or personal significance, Fours embrace individualism and are often profoundly creative. However, they have a habit of withdrawing to internalize, searching desperately inside themselves for something they never find and creating a spiral of depression. The angsty musician or tortured artist is often a stereotypical Four.
Five: Observer, Thinker, Investigator [Avarice]. Believing they are only worth what they contribute, Fives have learned to withdraw, to watch with keen eyes and speak only when they can shake the world with their observations. Sometimes they do just that. Often, instead, they withdraw from the world, becoming reclusive hermits and fending off social contact with abrasive cynicism. Fives fear incompetency or uselessness and want to be capable above all else
Six: Loyalist, Devil's Advocate, Defender [Fear]. Sixes long for stability above all else. They exhibit unwavering loyalty and responsibility, but are prone to extreme anxiety and passive-aggressive behavior. Their greatest fear is to lack support and guidance. There are two types of sixes, phobic and counter phobic. Phobic sixes will have a tendency to run from or hide from what they fear, while a counter phobic six is more likely to attack or confront said fear. Seven: Enthusiast, Adventurer, Materialist [Gluttony]. Eternal Peter Pans, Sevens flit from one activity to another. Above all they fear being unable to provide for themselves. At their best they embrace life for its varied joys and wonders and truly live in the moment; but at their worst they dash frantically from one new experience to another, being too scared of disappointment to enjoy what they have.
Eight: Leader, Protector, Challenger [Lust]. Eights worry about self-protection and control. Natural leaders, capable and passionate but also manipulative, ruthless and willing to destroy anything and everything in their way. Eights seek control over their own life and their own destiny and fear being harmed or controlled by others.
Nine: Mediator, Peacemaker, Preservationist [Sloth]. Nines are ruled by their empathy. At their best they are perceptive, receptive, gentle, calming and at peace with the world. On the other hand they prefer to dissociate from conflicts and indifferently go along with others' wishes or simply withdraw, acting via inaction. They fear the conflict caused by their ability to simultaneously understand opposing points of view and seek peace of mind above all else.
1. THE ORDINARY WORLD. The hero, uneasy, uncomfortable or unaware, is introduced sympathetically so the audience can identify with the situation or dilemma. The hero is shown against a background of environment, heredity, and personal history. Some kind of polarity in the hero’s life is pulling in different directions and causing stress. 2. THE CALL TO ADVENTURE. Something shakes up the situation, either from external pressures or from something rising up from deep within, so the hero must face the beginnings of change. 3. REFUSAL OF THE CALL. The hero feels the fear of the unknown and tries to turn away from the adventure, however briefly. Alternately, another character may express the uncertainty and danger ahead. 4. MEETING WITH THE MENTOR. The hero comes across a seasoned traveler of the worlds who gives him or her training, equipment, or advice that will help on the journey. Or the hero reaches within to a source of courage and wisdom. 5. CROSSING THE THRESHOLD. At the end of Act One, the hero commits to leaving the Ordinary World and entering a new region or condition with unfamiliar rules and values. 6. TESTS, ALLIES AND ENEMIES. The hero is tested and sorts out allegiances in the Special World. 7. APPROACH. The hero and newfound allies prepare for the major challenge in the Special world. 8. THE ORDEAL. Near the middle of the story, the hero enters a central space in the Special World and confronts death or faces his or her greatest fear. Out of the moment of death comes a new life. 9. THE REWARD. The hero takes possession of the treasure won by facing death. There may be celebration, but there is also danger of losing the treasure again. 10. THE ROAD BACK. About three-fourths of the way through the story, the hero is driven to complete the adventure, leaving the Special World to be sure the treasure is brought home. Often a chase scene signals the urgency and danger of the mission. 11. THE RESURRECTION. At the climax, the hero is severely tested once more on the threshold of home. He or she is purified by a last sacrifice, another moment of death and rebirth, but on a higher and more complete level. By the hero’s action, the polarities that were in conflict at the beginning are finally resolved. 12. RETURN WITH THE ELIXIR. The hero returns home or continues the journey, bearing some element of the treasure that has the power to transform the world as the hero has been transformed.
In the end a story is satisfactory if it reflects what we have come to know in our own life. There are rules in story only because there are rules in our own life. Rules that are as unchangeable and plain as the air we breathe. One can go about questioning our need for oxygen but it will do them no more good than will a writer who seeks to dishonor the audience by feeding them expectations and failing to meet them. Their story will simply not be as popular and that is all there is too it. But a story that meets all of the expectations it gives tends to be appreciated even by those who have not preference for the genera it was written in. This is because a good story reflects and amplifies life. We see ourselves in it and perceive a truth we will be mesmerized.
I have compiled from different plots simplifications of the plots that we read and stories and relate to because we live them in real life. A satisfactory story is not necessarily a happy ending. But one in which all of the elements honors each other and are balanced. To know how to balance the elements one should understand the iconic plot that it is a part of.
There are three basic endings to any story; a happy ending, a sad ending and a bittersweet ending. A story to be satisfactory has to clearly end in one of these three ways. An ambiguous ending is possible but it is unsatisfactory as life in the end is not ambiguous. Ending the story is creating an expectation in the audiences mind that there is an end. It is dishonoring to cut them off. One can leave open possibilities but the main plot of the story should be concluded. That is of course if the writer does not INTEND to irritate the audience. If the writer chooses to then they may by all means but it is a small audience who prefers irritation to closure. Still though a good storyteller is intentional in every element that they put into a story.
How I have sought to help this process and how to make good use of the following material:
So below for each of the plots I have added simplified dramatic questions these help guide to the definite ending in each type of plot.
Also for each is the roles of protagonist and antagonist. In every satisfactory story these are clearly defined and are both active in seeking and fighting for what they want.
One of the strongest tools towards making a satisfactory story is the catalyst. Two characters would not be fighting unless there was a strong reason to bind them to the fight. The greater the fight the stronger the catalyst needs to be. Whatever the catalyst(s) ends up being it HAS TO give both protagonist and antagonist no other choice but to fight to the end. It can be a situation, a conviction a punishment whatever but it must be irrefutable. Also it is imperative that the audience relate to the catalyst. They should say in their minds “Yeah I would leave the situation either.”
I have listed other variables taken largely from the 36 dramatic situations, which are very valuable in themselves, however dated and incomplete.
It should be noted that this is an ongoing draft.
“The Social Sphere”
Our need to be in communion with others. Our Family, Friends and Acquaintances. Anyone who we have made contact with.
Life: Acceptance, Communion
Hero and Potential Love VS Their Differences
Dramatic Question: Will ______ and ______ overcome their differences so that they can get together? (Fall in love, enjoy their connection, appreciate each other, etc) OR Will they not be able to and remain separated?
Catalyst: the interest the two have in each other
Characters: Two people/characters (romantic couple, plutonic friends, a person and an animal/creature, or relatives) OR a person and their environment OR a person and them-self
Subheadings: free union impeded by the incompatibility of temper of the lovers
STC “Buddy Love” (Two Counterparts VS the Complication (that keeps them apart): Pet Love, Professional Love, Romantic Comedy Love, Epic Love, Forbidden Love
Obstacles to Love
Two Lovers or Friends VS The Obstacle (that is keeping them apart)
Dramatic Question: Will ______ and ______ overcome the Obstacle and finally be together? OR Will they be defeated by the Obstacle and have to remain apart?
Catalyst: the “Love” between the Lovers
Characters: Two people/characters (romantic couple, plutonic friends, a person and an animal/creature, or relatives)
The Obstacle: Another Character or Characters, a Situation, an Environment, Culture or Distance, or a personal Disability or hindrance (not to be confused with "differences" as in Love Story)
Subheadings: marriage prevented by inequality of rank, inequality of fortune an impediment to marriage, marriage prevented by enemies and contingent obstacles, marriage forbidden on account of the young woman's previous betrothal to another, marriage forbidden on account of the young woman's previous betrothal to another, complicated by an imaginary marriage of the beloved object, free union impeded by the opposition of relatives, family affection disturbed by the parents-in-law
Other: Love - plot involves the Protagonist overcoming the obstacles to love that keeps them from consummating (engaging in) true love. Forbidden Love - plot involves Protagonist(s) overcoming obstacles created by social mores and taboos to consummate their relationship (and sometimes finding it at too high a price to live with).
Note: This is similar to "Love Story" only the two characters Start "in love."
An enemy loved
Lover and Beloved Enemy VS the Hater
Dramatic Question: Will the Lover and/or the Beloved Enemy be able to overcome the Hater (or change the hater’s motive)? OR Will the Hater prevail and keep the two apart?
Catalyst: The hatred (justifiable to a degree) of the Hater and the love of the Lovers
Subheadings: the loved one hated by kinsmen of the lover, the lover pursued by the brothers of his beloved, the lover hated by the family of his beloved, the lover is a son of a man hated by the kinsmen of his beloved, the lover is an enemy of the party of the woman who loves him, the lover is the slayer of the father of his beloved, the beloved is the slayer of the father of her lover, the beloved is the slayer of the brother of her lover, the beloved is the slayer of the husband of the woman who loves him, but who has previously sworn to avenge that husband, the beloved is the slayer of a previous lover of the woman who loves him, but who has previously sworn to avenge the dead lover, the beloved is a slayer of a kinsman of the woman who loves him, the beloved is the daughter of the slayer of her lover's father
Note: A more specific version of “Obstacles of Love”
Hater VS Hater
Catalyst: They must be stuck together for some reason.
Crimes of Love
Lover VS Beloved
Characters: Two people/characters (romantic couple, plutonic friends, a person and an animal/creature, or relatives)
The “Love” can be any form of love, affection, friendship, protectiveness, or lust that is at the heart selfish on the part of the Lover and hurtful to the Beloved.
Dramatic Question: Will the Beloved be overcome by the Lover's ill-motivated Love? OR Will the Beloved escape? OR Will the Lover come to their senses? OR Will the Beloved change their perspective?
Catalyst: The “love” of the Lover and the fact that the Beloved (for some reason) cannot escape the lover
Subheadings: a mother in love with her son, a daughter in love with her father, violation of a daughter by a father, a woman enamored of her stepson, a woman and her stepson enamored of each other, a woman being the mistress, at the same time, of a father and son, both of whom accept the situation, a man becomes the lover of his sister-in-law, a man becomes enamored of his sister-in-law, a brother and sister in love with each other, a man/woman enamored of another man/woman, who yields, a woman enamored of a bull
Enmity of kinsmen
Malevolent Kinsman VS Hated or reciprocally hating Kinsman
Dramatic Question: Will the two “Haters” learn to get along or even love each other? OR Will they destroy each other?
Catalyst: they cannot get away from each other because they are family or they are some how stuck in the same situation.
Subheadings: one brother hated by several, reciprocal hatred between brothers, hatred between relatives for reasons of self-interest, hatred of father and son, mutual hatred, hatred of daughter for the father, hatred of grandfather for grandson, hatred of father-in-law for son-in-law, hatred of two brothers-in-law, hatred of mother-in-law for daughter-in-law, infanticide
"a deceived spouse; two adulterers"
Catalyst: The marital vow and/or the love that the spouses once had or still have.
Subheadings: a mistress betrayed for a young woman, a mistress betrayed for a young wife, a mistress betrayed for a girl, a wife betrayed for a slave, who does not love in return, a wife betrayed for debauchery, a wife betrayed for a married woman, a wife betrayed with the intention of bigamy, a wife betrayed for a young girl, who does not love in return, a wife envied by a young girl who is in love with her husband, a wife betrayed by a courtesan, rivalry between a wife who is antipathetic and a mistress who is congenial, rivalry between a generous wife and an impassioned girl, an antagonistic husband sacrificed for a congenial lover, a husband, believed to be lost, forgotten for a rival, a commonplace husband, sacrificed for a sympathetic lover, a good husband betrayed for an inferior rival, a good husband betrayed for a grotesque rival, a good husband betrayed for an odious rival, a good husband betrayed for a commonplace rival, by a perverse wife, a good husband betrayed for a rival less handsome, but useful, vengeance of a deceived husband, jealousy sacrificed for the sake of a cause, a husband persecuted by a rejected rival
“The Physical Sphere”
Life: Life, Pleasure, Shelter, Food and Safety
Death: Death, Pain
The Vanquished VS The Effects (of the Disaster)
Dramatic Question: Will the Vanquished become victor and overcome the Effects of the disaster? OR Will the Vanquished remain a victim and succumb to the effects?
Catalyst: The Victims only hope for life is to try and overcome the disaster. The Disaster itself cannot be undone.
The Disaster: a victorious enemy, a messenger or an unreasoning force
Subheading: defeat suffered, a fatherland destroyed, the fall of humanity, a natural catastrophe, a monarch overthrown, ingratitude suffered, the suffering of unjust punishment or enmity, an outrage suffered, abandonment by a lover or a husband, children lost by their parents
STC “Dude With a Problem” (Innocent hero, Sudden Event, Life or death Battle): Spy Problem, Law Enforcement, Domestic Problem, Epic Problem, and Nature Problem
Defender VS Monster Evil Incarnate
Catalyst: the Defenders should be unable to get away from the Monster. They cannot escape therefore they must destroy the Monster.
The Monster: Evil Incarnate in any form. It should be character(s) or thing(s) that are pure malevolence and out to destroy all in their path or a specific character or characters. The Monster should also be powerful and chaotic (relative to the Defenders)
The Defenders: Any character to group that wants to survive and has to fight the Monster. The defenders should be mortal and venerable (relative to the Monster) but they should put up a good fight.
Dramatic Question: Will the Defenders defeat the Monster? OR Will the Monster Destroy the Defenders?
STC: Pure Monster, Domestic Monster, Serial Monster, Supra-natural Monster, Nihilist Monster
Victim(s) VS Monster
Catalyst: Physically trapped with the Monster, and the Defenders Desirer to live.
Other: Zombies attack, Monster on the Lose, Rouge predator, Serial Killer
Victim(s) VS Man Person
Catalyst: the Victim should either be physically trapped with the Mad Person orthey should be equally trapped due to their own character flaw or social/societal/cultural/marital/commitment demands.
Subheadings: kinsmen slain in madness, a lover slain in madness, slaying or injuring of a person not hated, disgrace brought upon oneself through madness, loss of loved ones brought about by madness, madness brought on by fear of heredity insanity
The Betrayed Spouse VS Two Adulterers
Adultery: Not just marital it can be any severe breach of commitment in which the “Betrayed Spouse” is left significantly wounded. Wounded enough to drive them mad with rage.
Catalyst: the commitment and the attachment of spouses.
Subheadings: slaying of a husband by, or for, a paramour, slaying of a trusted lover, slaying of a wife for a paramour, and in self-interest
Falling prey to cruelty or misfortune
"an unfortunate; a master or a misfortune"
Subheading: the innocent made the victim of ambitious intrigue, the innocent despoiled by those who should protect, the powerful dispossessed or wretched, a favorite or an intimate finds himself forgotten, the unfortunate robbed of their hope
Correcting a Mistake
"the imprudent; the victim or the object lost"
Subheadings: imprudence the cause of one's own misfortune, imprudence the cause of one's own dishonor, curiosity the cause of one's own misfortune, loss of possession of a loved one through curiosity, curiosity the cause of death or misfortune to others, imprudence the cause of a relative's death, imprudence the cause of a lover's death, credulity the cause of kinsmen's deaths, credulity the cause of misfortune
"the jealous; the object of whose possessions he is jealous; the supposed accomplice; the cause or the author of the mistake"
Subheadings: the mistake originates in the suspicious mind of the jealous one, mistaken jealousy aroused by a fatal chance, mistaken jealousy of a love which is purely platonic, baseless jealousy aroused by malicious rumors, jealousy suggested by a traitor who is moved by hatred, jealousy suggested by a traitor who is moved by self-interest, jealousy suggested by a traitor who is moved by jealousy and self-interest, reciprocal jealousy suggested to husband and wife by a rival, jealousy suggested to the husband by a dismissed suitor, jealousy suggested to the husband by a woman who is in love with him, jealousy suggested to the wife by a scorned rival, jealousy suggested to a happy lover by the deceived husband
"the mistaken one; the victim of the mistake; the cause or author of the mistake; the guilty person"
Subheadings: suspicion where faith is necessary, false suspicion, false suspicions aroused by the a misunderstood attitude of a loved one, false suspicions aroused by indifference, false suspicions drawn upon oneself to save a friend, false suspicions fall upon the innocent, false suspicions fall upon the innocent spouse of the guilty one, false suspicions fall upon an innocent but guilty-intentioned, false suspicions fall upon an innocent who believes themselves guilty, a witness to a crime, in the interests of loved one, lets accusation fall upon the innocent, the accusation is allowed to fall upon an enemy, the error is provoked by the enemy, the mistake is directed against the victim by her brother, false suspicion thrown by the real culprit upon one of his enemies, false suspicion thrown by the real culprit upon the second victim against which he has plotted from the beginning, false suspicion thrown upon a rival, false suspicion thrown upon an innocent because he has refused to be an accomplice, false suspicion thrown by a deserted mistress upon a lover who left her because he would not deceive her husband, struggle to rehabilitate oneself and to avenge a judicial error purposely caused
Other: Decision (#20) - riches-to-rags plot deals with the fall (destruction) of Protagonist due to dominating character trait that eventually destroys their success. Wretched Excess (#18) - plot involves a Protagonist who, either by choice or by accident, pushes the limits of acceptable behavior to the extreme and is forced to deal with the consequences (generally deals with the psychological decline of the character).
Slaying of a kinsman unrecognized
"the slayer; the unrecognized victim"
Subheadings: being upon the point of slaying a daughter unknowingly by command of a divinity or an oracle, being upon the point of slaying a daughter unknowingly through political necessity, being upon the point of slaying a daughter unknowingly through a rivalry in love, being upon the point of slaying a daughter unknowingly through hatred of the lover of the unrecognized daughter, being upon the point of slaying a son unknowingly, being upon the point of slaying a son unknowingly, strengthened by Machiavellian instigations, being upon the point of slaying a son unknowingly, strengthened by Machiavellian instigations, intermixed with hatred of kinsmen, being upon the point of slaying a brother, unknowingly, in anger, a sister, upon the point of slaying a brother, unknowingly, through professional duty, slaying of a mother unrecognized, slaying of a father unknowingly, through Machiavellian advice, slaying of a father unknowingly, insulting of a father unknowingly, being on the point of slaying of a father unknowingly, a grandfather slain unknowingly, in vengeance and through instigation, a grandfather slain involuntarily, a father-in-law killed involuntarily, involuntary killing of a loved woman, being on the point of killing a lover, unrecognized, failure to rescue an unrecognized son
Subheadings: Thinking someone is rich when he's poor, the wrong man caught in the web of fear, Schizophrenia.
“The Mental Sphere”
Life: Closure, Knowledge, Truth and Understanding
Death: Darkness, The Unknown
Seeker VS the Mystery
Catalyst: the necessity to solve the problem.
The Mystery: interrogator and/or a problem to be solved
Subheadings: search for person who must be found on pain of death, a riddle to be solved on pain of death, a riddle to be solved on pain of death in which the poser is the coveted woman, temptations offered with the object of discovering his name, temptations offered with the object of ascertaining the sex, tests for the purposes of ascertaining the mental condition
Other: THE RIDDLE - plot involves the Protagonist's search for clues to find the hidden meaning of something in question that is deliberately enigmatic or ambiguous.
STC “Why-Dun-It” (Detective, Secret, Dark Turn): Political Whydunit, Fantasy Whydunit, Cop Whydunit, Personal Whydunit, Noir Whydunit
Rites of Passage
“The Time Sphere”
Life: Progression, Expansion and Adaption
Death: Stagnation, Despair and Retardation
Rites of Passage
Character VS Life Problem
Catalyst: Progression (life) is possible if the Life Problem is faced. Stagnation and Despair (Death) is inevitable if the Life Problem is allowed to remain unchallenged.
STC “Rites of Passage” (Life Problem, Wrong way, Acceptance):
Mid-Life Passage, Separation Passage, Death Passage, Addiction Passage, Adolescent Passage
Other: TRANSFORMATION - plot involves the process of change in the Protagonist as they journey through a stage of life that moves them from one significant character state to another. MATURATION - plot involves the Protagonist facing a problem that is part of growing up, and from dealing with it, emerging into a state of adulthood (going from innocence to experience). DISCOVERY - plot that is the most character-centered of all, involves the Protagonist having to overcome an upheaval(s) in their life, and thereby discovering something important (and buried) within them a better understanding of life (i.e., better appreciation of their life, a clearer purpose in their life, etc.)
Loss of loved ones
The Spectator VS the Reality of the Loss
Catalyst: The Love of the Lost One.
Subheadings: "a kinsman slain; a kinsman spectator; an executioner", witnessing the slaying of kinsmen while powerless to prevent it, helping to bring misfortune upon one's people through professional secrecy, divining the death of a loved one, learning of the death of a kinsman or ally, relapse into primitive baseness, through despair on learning of the death of a loved one
The Culprit VS the Sin
Catalyst: The Culprits conviction and guilt for the sin.
The Sin: Can be self standing but more effective is its affect on victim also there can be an interrogator who goats the conscious of the Culprit but in this case the real battle is within the Moral of the Culprit.
Subheadings: remorse for an unknown crime, remorse for a parricide, remorse for an assassination, remorse for the murder of husband or wife, remorse for a fault of love, remorse for an adultery
Rescuer VS Threatener
Dramatic Question: Will the Rescuer save the Unfortunate from the Threatener? OR Will the Unfortunate be lost to the Threatener?
Subheadings: appearance of a rescuer to the condemned, a parent replaced upon the throne by his children, rescue by friends or by strangers grateful for benefits or hospitality
Recovery of a lost one
"the seeker; the one found"
Subheadings: recovery of a lost one
"the abductor; the abducted; the guardian"
Subheadings: abduction of an unwilling woman, abduction of a consenting woman, recapture of the woman without the slaying of the abductor, recapture of the woman with the abductor slain, the rescue of a captive friend, the rescue of a child, the rescue of a soul in captivity to error
#4 RESCUE - this plot involves the Protagonist searching for someone or something, usually consisting of three main characters - the Protagonist, the Victim & the Antagonist.
"a persecutor, a suppliant and a power in authority"
Subheadings: fugitives imploring the powerful for help against their enemies, assistance implored for the performance of a pious duty which has been forbidden, appeals for a refuge in which to die, hospitality besought by the shipwrecked, charity entreated by those cast off by their own people, whom they have disgraced, expiation, the seeking of pardon, healing or deliverance, the surrender of a corpse, or of a relic, solicited, supplication of the powerful for those dear to the suppliant, supplication to a relative in behalf of another relative, supplication to a mother's lover, in her behalf
Crime and Justice
“The Moral Sphere”
Our Need for justice. Religion, Faith, Our Moral Code Upheld, honor.
Justice VS Criminal
The Criminal: can be any character who has committed a crime.
The Crime: can be real or only perceived, and can be anything from murder to an insult. Whatever it is it must amount to a crime in the eyes of “Justice.”
Justice: Can be a whole government or society or a single or couple of characters who are acting as the Avenger(s).
Dramatic Question: Will the Criminal flee Justice? OR Will the Criminal pay for their crime? OR Will Mercy triumph over Justice? Or will both criminal and Justice destroy each other?
Avenger VS Criminal
Catalyst: the avengers inability to forgive the criminal, the necessity of justice, the nature of the crime.
Subheadings: the avenging of a slain parent or ancestor, the avenging of a slain child or descendant, vengeance for a child dishonored, the avenging of a slain wife or husband, vengeance for the dishonor or attempted dishonoring of a wife, vengeance for a mistress slain, vengeance for a slain or injured friend, vengeance for a sister seduced, vengeance for intentional injury or spoliation, vengeance for having been despoiled during absence, revenge for a false accusation, vengeance for violation, vengeance for having been robbed of one's own, vengeance on a whole sex for a deception by one, professional pursuit of criminals, a father's death avenged upon a mother, a mother avenged upon a father, a brother's death avenged upon a son, a father's death avenged upon a husband, a husband's death avenged upon a father
Other: #6 REVENGE - retaliation by Protagonist or Antagonist against the other for real or imagined injury.
Fugitive VS Punishment
Catalyst: the fugitives desire to avoid punishment, the punishment
Subheading: fugitives from justice pursued for brigandage, political offences, etc, pursued for a fault of love, a hero struggling against a power, a pseudo-madman struggling against an Iago-like alienist
Other: hide-and-seek, one person chasing another.
Involuntary Crimes of Love
The Lover and Beloved VS The Revealer
Catalyst: The relation or love to the one on whom the crime is committed.
Subheadings: discovery that one has married one's mother, discovery that one has a sibling as a lover, discovery that one has married one's sibling, discovery that one has married one's sibling, in which the crime has been villainously planned by a third person, being on the point of taking a sibling, unknowingly, as a lover, being upon the point of violating, unknowingly, a child, being upon the point of committing an adultery unknowingly, adultery committed unknowingly
Discovery of the dishonor of a loved one
The Avenger VS the Dishonorer and/or the Dishonored
Catalyst: The love of the one Dishonored
Subheadings: discovery of a parent's shame, of a child's dishonor, of a sibling's shame or dishonor, of dishonor in the family of one's fiancée, discovery that one's wife has been violated before marriage, that one's wife has been violated since the marriage, that one's spouse has previously committed a fault, that one's spouse has formerly been a prostitute, discovery of dishonor on the part of a lover, discovery that one's mistress (formerly a prostitute) has returned to her former life, discovery that one's lover is of bad character, discovery that one's spouse is of bad character, discovery that one's lover is specifically weakened, discovery that one's son is an assassin, duty of punishing a traitorous relative, duty of punishing a son condemned under a law which the father has made, duty of punishing a son believed to be guilty, duty of sacrificing, to fulfill a vow of tyrranicide, a father until then unknown, duty of punishing a wrong-doing relative, duty of punishing one's mother to avenge one's father
Sacrificed VS the Necessity of the Sacrifice
Self-sacrificing for an ideal
"The hero; the Ideal' the "creditor" or the person or thing sacrificed"
Subheadings: sacrifice of life for the sake of one's word, life sacrificed for the benefit of one's own people, life sacrificed in filial piety, life sacrificed for the sake of one's faith, both love and life sacrificed for one's faith, both love and life sacrificed to a cause, love sacrificed to interests of state, sacrifice of well-being to duty, the ideal of "honor" sacrificed to the ideal of "faith"
Other: Sacrifice (#16) - plot involves the Protagonist taking action(s) that is motivated by a higher purpose (concept) such as love, honor, or charity or for the sake of humanity.
Self-sacrifice for kindred
"The hero; the kinsman; the "creditor" or person or thing sacrificed"
Subheadings: life sacrificed for that of a relative or loved one, life sacrificed for the happiness of a relative or loved one, ambition sacrificed for the happiness of a parent, ambition sacrificed for the life of a parent, love sacrificed for the sake of a parent's life, love sacrificed for the happiness of one's child, love sacrificed for the happiness of a loved one, love sacrificed for the happiness of one's child, but the situation brought about by unjust laws, life and honor sacrificed for the life of a parent or loved one, modesty sacrificed for the life of a relative or a loved one
All sacrificed for a passion
"The lover; the object of the fatal passion; the person or thing sacrificed"
Subheadings: religious vows of chastity broken for a passion, a vow of purity broken, a future ruined by a passion, power ruined by passion, ruin of mind, health and life, ruin of fortunes, lives and honors, temptations destroying the sense of duty, of pity, etc., destruction of honor, fortune and life by erotic vice, destruction of honor, fortune and life by any other vice
#10 TEMPTATION - plot involves a Protagonist that for one reason or another is induced or persuaded to do something that is unwise, wrong or immoral.
Necessity of sacrificing loved ones
"The hero; the beloved victim; the necessity for the sacrifice"
Subheadings: necessity for sacrificing a daughter in the public interest, duty of sacrificing a daughter in fulfillment of a vow to a god, duty of sacrificing benefactors or loved ones to one's faith, duty of sacrificing one's child, unknown to others, under the pressure of necessity, duty of sacrificing, unknown to others, one's father, under the pressure of necessity, duty of sacrificing, unknown to others, one's husband, under the pressure of necessity, duty of sacrificing a son-in-law for the public good, duty of sacrificing a son-in-law for the sake of reputation, duty of contending with a brother-in-law for the public good, duty of contending with a friend
Ambition and Rivalry
Ambitious Character VS Adversary (that blocks the Coveted Object)
Dramatic Question: Will the bold leader take the prize? OR Will he lose it to the Adversary OR will they both lose it? OR will they learn to share? (Sharing being relative.)
Catalyst: Both parties desire and need an object that only one can leave with. The need for the object can be further heightened if the each rival will be subjected to a type of death (not necessarily literal) if the object is not obtained.
The Object: can be a literal object, a prize, a person, a title, anything real (wither tangible or intangible that cannot be shared)
Subheadings: ambition watched and guarded against by a kinsman or patriot friend, ambition watched and guarded against by a brother, ambition watched and guarded against by a relative or person under no obligation, ambition watched and guarded against by partisans, rebellious ambition, ambition and covetousness heaping crime upon crime, parricidal ambition
Other: QUEST - the plot involves the Protagonist's search for a person, place or thing, tangible or intangible (but must be quantifiable, so think of this as a noun; i.e., immortality). ADVENTURE - this plot involves the Protagonist going in search of their fortune, and since fortune is never found at home, the Protagonist goes to search for it somewhere over the rainbow. RIVALRY - plot involves Protagonist competing for same object or goal as another person (their rival).
Bold Leader VS Adversary (that blocks the Desired Object)
Subheadings: Preparations for war, war, a combat, carrying off a desired person or object, recapture of a desired object, adventurous expeditions, and adventure undertaken for the purpose of obtaining a beloved woman
Solicitor VS Refuser
Subheadings: Efforts to obtain an object by ruse or force, Endeavour by means of persuasive eloquence alone, Eloquence with an arbitrator
Rivalry of kinsmen
The Preferred Kinsman VS the Rejected Kinsman
Subheadings: malicious rivalry of a sibling, malicious rivalry of two siblings, rivalry of two siblings, with adultery on the part of one, rivalry of a parent and a child for an unmarried lover, rivalry of a parent and a child for a married lover, rivalry of a parent and a child for the love of the other parent, rivalry of parent and child, rivalry of cousins, rivalry of friends
Rivalry of superior and inferior
Inferior Rival VS Superior Rival
Subheadings: rivalry of a mortal and an immortal, rivalry of two divinities of unequal power, rivalry of a magician and an ordinary man, rivalry of conqueror and conquered, rivalry of victor and vanquished, rivalry of a master and a banished man, rivalry of suzerain king and vassal king, rivalry of a king and a noble, rivalry of a powerful person and an upstart, rivalry of rich and poor, rivalry of an honored man and a suspected one, rivalry of two who are almost equal, rivalry of equals, one of whom has in the past been guilty of adultery, rivalry of a man who is loved and one who has not the right to love, rivalry of the two successive husbands of a divorcee, rivalry of a sorceress and an ordinary woman, rivalry of a victor and a prisoner, rivalry of a queen and a subject, rivalry of a queen and a slave, rivalry of a lady and a servant, rivalry of a lady and a woman of humbler position, rivalry of two who are almost equals, complicated by the abandonment of one, rivalry between a memory and an ideal (that of a superior woman) and a vassal of her own, rivalry of mortal and immortal, double rivalry (A vs B vs C vs D), rivalry of two immortals, rivalry of two mortals, rivalry of two lawful wives
Other: UNDERDOG - plot involves a Protagonist competing for an object or goal that is at a great disadvantage and is faced with overwhelming odds.
Tyrant VS Conspirator
Usurper VS Oppressor
Subheadings: a conspiracy chiefly of one individual, a conspiracy of several, revolt of one individual who influences and involves others, a revolt of many
Conflict with a god
Mortal VS the Power (that the Deity Holds)
Subheadings: struggle against a deity, strife with believers in a god, controversy with a deity, punishment for contempt of a god, punishment for pride before a god, presumptuous rivalry with a god, impudent rivalry with a deity
#5 ESCAPE - plot involves a Protagonist confined against their will who wants to escape (does not include some one trying to escape their personal demons).