Basic mega plot: 5 stages presents in each story Anticipation stage Dream stage Frustration stage Nightmare stage Resolution The call to adventure, and the promise of what is to come The heroine or hero experiences some initial success - everything seems to be going well, sometimes with a dreamlike sense of invincibility First confrontation with the real enemy. Things begin to go wrong At the point of maximum dramatic tension, disaster has erupted and it seems all hope is lost The hero or heroine is eventually victorious, and may also be united or reunited with their ‘other half’ (a romantic partner)
Plot 1: Overcoming the Monster Anticipation stage Dream stage Frustration stage Nightmare stage Resolution The call Initial success Confrontation Final ordeal Miraculous escape, death of the monster Examples: Perseus, Theseus, Beowulf, Dracula, War of the Worlds, Nicholas Nickleby, The Guns of Navarone, Seven Samurai/The Magnificent Seven, James Bond, Star Wars: A New Hope
Plot 2: Rags to riches Anticipation stage Dream stage Frustration stage Nightmare stage Resolution Initial Wretchedness at Home Out into the World The Central Crisis Independence Final Union, Completion and Fulfillment Examples: Cinderella, Aladdin, Jane Eyre, Great Expectations, David Copperfield
Plot 3: The Quest Anticipation stage Dream stage Frustration stage Nightmare stage Resolution The Call (Oppressed in the City of Destruction) The Journey (Ordeals of the Hero/Heroine & Companions) May include some or all of the following: a. Monsters b. Temptations c. The Deadly Opposites d. The Journey to the Underworld Arrival and Frustration The Final Ordeals The Goal (Kingdom, Other Half or Elixir won) Examples: The Odyssey, Pilgrim’s Progress, King Solomon’s Mines, Watership Down
Plot 4: Voyage & Return Anticipation stage Dream stage Frustration stage Nightmare stage Resolution Anticipation Stage (‘Fall’ into the Other World) Initial Fascination (Dream Stage) Frustration Stage Nightmare Stage Thrilling Escape and Return Examples: Alice in Wonderland, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Orpheus, The Time Machine, Peter Rabbit, Brideshead Revisited, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Gone with the Wind, The Third Man (1948)
Plot 5: Tragedy Anticipation stage Dream stage Frustration stage Nightmare stage Resolution Anticipation Stage (Greed or Selfishness ) Dream Stage Frustration Stage Nightmare Stage Destruction or Death Wish Stage Examples: Macbeth, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Carmen, Bonnie & Clyde, Jules et Jim, Anna Karenina, Madame Bovary, Julius Caesar
Plot 6: Rebirth Anticipation stage Dream stage Frustration stage Nightmare stage Resolution Under the Shadow A young hero or heroine falls under the shadow of a dark power The Threat Recedes Everything seems to go well for a while - the threat appears to have receded The Threat Returns Eventually the threat approaches again in full force, until the hero or heroine is seen imprisoned in a state of living death The Dark Power Triumphant The state of living death continues for a long time when it seems the dark power has completely triumphed Miraculous Redemption If the imprisoned person is a heroine, redeemed by the hero; if a hero, by a young woman or child Examples: Sleeping Beauty, The Frog Prince, Beauty and the Beast, The Snow Queen, A Christmas Carol, The Secret Garden, Peer Gynt
Other plots: The mystery
Begins by posing a riddle, usually through the revelation that some baffling crime has been committed. Central figure unravels the riddle.
Examples: Bel and the Dragon, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie
Other plots: Rebellion Against ‘The One’
A solitary hero/heroine finds themselves being drawn into a state of resentful, mystified opposition to some immense power, which exercises total sway over the world of the hero. Initially they feel they are right and the mysterious power is at fault, but suddenly the hero/heroine is confronted by the power in its awesome omnipotence.
The rebellious hero/heroine is crushed and forced to recognize that their view had been based only on a very limited subjective perception of reality. They accept the power’s rightful claim to rule.
Example: The Book of Job Dark version: Brave New World, 1984
Other plots: The challenge plot
The main character overcomes daunting challenges and succeeds.
“Challenge plots appeal to our perseverance and courage. They make us want to work harder, take on new challenges, and overcome obstacles. They inspire us to act
Examples: David and Goliath, Rocky
Other plots: The Connection plot
People develop a relationship that bridges a gap—racial, class, ethnic, religious, demographic, or otherwise. Connection plots make us want to help others, be more tolerant of others, work with others, and love others
Example: Titanic, belle and the best
Other plots: Creativity plot
The Creativity plot involves someone making a mental breakthrough, solving a longstanding puzzle, or attacking a problem in an innovative way. Creativity plots make us want to do something different, to be creative, and to experiment with new approaches
Examples: MacGyver, the Goonies
Empathy is often created by introducing drama to an otherwise perfect life Wall-e’s is a like the most honest and cutest child / pet and he is extremely lonely, craving someone to be in his live
Creating empathy for characters Bambi’s mother gets killed by a hunter Cinderella is treated like a slave by her own family
Creating empathy for characters Happy feet is rejected from his community by his own family The innocent Snow white is wanted dead by a jealous princess
Creating empathy for characters Harry Potter is the most miserable, lonely boy you can imagine. He’s shunned by his relatives, the Dursley’s, that have raised him since he was an infant. He’s forced to live in the cupboard under the stairs, forced to wear his cousin Dudley’s hand-me-down clothes, and forced to go to his neighbour’s house when the rest of the family is doing something fun. Yes, he’s just about as miserable as you can get.
What they have in common
They all are innocent archetypes
They are genuinely good, but bad things happen to them
They go through a crisis (conflict) before its resolution, creating empathy
Innocent archetypes without crisis / conflicts do not create empathies