“The Seven Basic Plots” is a seminal work by Christopher Booker that examines the common themes that are found in many of the world’s greatest stories. Booker argues that there are seven basic plots that all stories fall into, and that these plots have been used since the dawn of storytelling to create compelling narratives that resonate with audiences. In this review, we will examine the key arguments and ideas presented in the book, as well as its strengths and weaknesses.
The Seven Basic Plots
According to Booker, the seven basic plots are as follows: Overcoming the Monster, Rags to Riches, The Quest, Voyage and Return, Comedy, Tragedy, and Rebirth. Booker argues that all stories fall into one of these categories, and that each plot has its own unique structure and characteristics.
Overcoming the Monster
The Overcoming the Monster plot is perhaps the most straightforward of all the basic plots. In this type of story, the protagonist faces a powerful and terrifying monster, which they must defeat in order to restore peace and order to their world. Examples of stories that fall into this category include “Jaws,” “Alien,” and “Godzilla.”
Rags to Riches
In the Rags to Riches plot, the protagonist starts out as a humble and often disadvantaged individual, but through hard work, talent, and perseverance, they rise to great heights of wealth and power. This type of story is often use in biographies of successful individuals, as well as in many popular novels and films.
The Quest plot involves the protagonist embarking on a journey or mission in search of a particular object or goal. Along the way, they face a variety of challenges and obstacles, and must use their wits, skills, and determination to overcome them. Examples of stories that fall into this category include “The Lord of the Rings,” “Indiana Jones,” and “The Odyssey.”
Voyage and Return
The Voyage and Return plot involves the protagonist traveling to a strange and unfamiliar world. Where they must face new and often frightening challenges. Ultimately, they return to their own world, having gained a new perspective on life and themselves. Examples of stories that fall into this category include “Alice in Wonderland,” “The Wizard of Oz,” and “The Chronicles of Narnia.”
Comedy In the Comedy plot, the protagonist faces a series of challenges and setbacks. But ultimately triumphs over adversity through humor and wit. This type of story is often use in romantic comedies and other lighthearted genres. And typically ends with a happy and satisfying resolution.
The Tragedy plot involves the protagonist’s downfall and ultimate demise, often brought about by their own flaws or weaknesses. This type of story is often use in classical literature. And can be a powerful way to explore the darker side of human nature.
The Rebirth plot involves the protagonist undergoing a profound transformation or change, often through a traumatic event or experience. Examples of stories that fall into this category include “The Secret Garden” and “A Christmas Carol.”
Strengths and Weaknesses
One of the strengths of “The Seven Basic Plots” is its thoroughness and attention to detail. Booker examines each of the seven basic plots in depth. Providing numerous examples from literature, film, and other media to illustrate his points. He also provides a comprehensive overview of the key elements of each plot. Including the protagonist, the antagonist, the setting, the conflict, and the resolution.
Another strength of the book is its accessibility. While the subject matter is complex and nuanced. Booker presents his ideas in a clear and straightforward manner that is easy to understand. This makes the book an excellent resource for anyone interested in learning more about storytelling. Whether they are a writer, filmmaker, or simply a fan of great stories.
However, one weakness of the book is its rigidity. While the seven basic plots may be a useful framework for understanding and analyzing stories. They do not account for the many nuances and variations that can be found within each plot. Some critics have also argued that the seven basic plots are too broad and simplistic. That they do not do justice to the complexity and diversity of human experience.
Overall, “The Seven Basic Plots” is an insightful and engaging exploration of the fundamental elements of storytelling. While it may not be the definitive guide to storytelling. it provides a useful starting point for anyone looking to understand the underlying structure of great stories. Whether you are a writer, filmmaker, or simply a fan of great stories, this book is well worth reading.