Basic plots

 

When we look at stories, we find some recurrent basic plots. And this is true whether the stories take the form of film, novels, short stories, oral stories, history, our life stories, self-talk, dreams, and so on. And different people propose a different number and different types of such basic plots.

The essence of any plot is the drama of I and Other, revolving around the question what will happen to to this separate self? As soon as there is a sense of a separate self, there is drama and that question.

From there, we have innumerable plot types. And these are defined by a few different things…

Who is the Other? Is it one or more other people, nature, God, oneself?

What type of situation or challenge is there? What is the flavor of the drama? Is it discovery? Love? Revenge? Adventure? Pursuit? Maturation? Transformation? Escape? Sacrifice? Mistaken identity?

What role does the protagonist play? Hero? Villain? Fool? Perpetrator? Victim?

What is the trajectory or outcome of the drama? How does it unfold? Where does it go? Is there a climax? A silence before the storm? A segment of life? Happy ending? Sad ending? Unclear or unfinished ending? Is it really an ending? What happens afterwards?

When I look at my own stories, I can find each of these. When there is a sense of a separate self here, it plays all of the different roles, opposed to any of the various Others, in each of the different flavor of dramas, and with a wide range of trajectories and ways it unfolds.

The outer stories, the ones about others, the ones in movies, novels, fairy tales, the ones others tell about themselves, they all reflect stories right here, about this separate self.

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