Actually, my reply to @wowser is not strictly true. It was Arthur Quiller-Couch who first developed the idea that narrative was based on seven basic conflicts. He identified these as:

  1. Man against Man
  2. Man against Nature
  3. Man against Himself
  4. Man against God
  5. Man against Society
  6. Man caught in the Middle
  7. Man and Woman

As you can see, this list is clearly flawed. For one thing, it suggests that only one in seven of all possible narrative constructs feature women. In today’s society, such an idea appears outdated. Also, the first one should really say “Man against (a different) Man” otherwise it’s sort of the same as No.3.

Attempting to update this concept, in 2005, Christopher Booker published The Seven Basic Plots in which he presented his own idea of what these seven basic plots are:

  1. Overcoming the Monster
  2. Rags to Riches
  3. The Quest
  4. Voyage and Return
  5. Comedy
  6. Tragedy
  7. Rebirth

If anything, this list is even worse. “Comedy” isn’t a plot, Booker, you idiot. That would be like saying that On The Buses and Open All Hours are about the same thing, when clearly they’re not (On The Buses is about some people who work for a bus company and Open All Hours is about some people who work in a grocery shop. A bus company is not the same as a grocery shop).

Fortunately, I have developed my own list of the seven basic plots and I think you will agree that this list is much more satisfactory:

  1. In the rush to catch their plane, a busy family accidentally leave their eight year child at home over Christmas. The boy is forced to defend the home from thieves.
  2. Scientists studying DNA and genetics manage to bring dinosaurs back to life.
  3. Two young office workers are invited to spend the weekend at the house of their boss, however he dies soon after their arrival. The two have to convince a group of party-goers that their boss is fine.
  4. Same as No.1 but set in New York.
  5. An average family travel all the way across America on vacation to visit a theme-park but are faced with a series of set-backs along the way.
  6. Robot from the future is sent back in time to terminate an as-yet unborn child who will one day lead a rebellion against a self-aware computer network.
  7. Family from No.5 win a trip around Europe


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