7 Classic Plots to Use in Your Next Story

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In the past blog posts I’ve given tips for building great stories and even analyzed some examples of powerful storytelling. If you haven’t read those posts, be sure to check them out. Today, we’ll be going over some classic story plots.


In 2004, an English journalist named Christopher Booker published a book called The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories. In the book, he detailed 7 types of plots that he believed all stories can be classified into.


Using these 7 plots to build a story can help you instill a feeling of structure into your stories. And they’ve certainly undergone the test of time—they can be found everywhere in classic stories. 


So today, we’ll be going over each of the 7 plots. Hopefully, you can get some inspiration for your next storytelling speech.


  1. Rags to Riches – The hero must rise through challenges in order to become successful. 
    • One classic example of a “Rags to Riches” plot would be Disney’s Cinderella; a girl who is raised in poverty and misery transcends her struggles to live out her dreams of freedom and luxury.
  2. Overcoming the Monster – A main character that must travel outside of a safe zone to defeat an evil force.
    • One example of this in pop culture would be the movie Shrek, where the main character must travel to a distant kingdom to learn how he can get his swamp back.
  3. Voyage and Return – The hero starts out with a weakness, then sets out on a voyage. While on their journey they are forced to battle their limitations and they return home as a new person.
    • In the movie The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy is taken from her native Kansas farm, which is in a rural town she finds very boring. After visiting and returning from the magical land of Oz, she has a newfound appreciation for the people and home she loves.
  4. The Quest – The protagonist is chosen to pursue a treasure or desired object outside of their homeland, and after a tiring journey they return triumphant.
    • In the movie Finding Nemo, young Nemo sets out on a mission to find his way back to his father, Marlin. Marlin also embarks on a journey to find his son. In the end, Nemo is found and the family returns back to the ocean.
  5. Comedy – The story consists of hilarious missteps and light-hearted developments. However, there are deeper positive themes like friendship, family and love.
    • In the movie Toy Story, Buzz and Woody are competing to win Andy’s favor. Along the way, they banter back and forth and eventually become friends.
  6. Tragedy – The story is the opposite of the “Comedy” plot. Rather than coming to a satisfying ending, the character who used to have a pleasant life ends up in a tougher situation. These stories are usually used to teach a life lesson. Today, few children’s movies or books use this type of plot due to the tendency for darker themes.
    • In the movie Bambi, there are elements of a “Tragedy” plot as little Bambi’s mother is killed by hunters, which leaves him very vulnerable in the treacherous forest.
  7. Rebirth – The story may seem like a “Tragedy” at first, often edging closer and closer to doom until it seems all is lost. However, a plot twist brings the hero back to safety, and leads to their redemption.
    • Beauty and the Beast is a great example of this because the prince has been cursed to live his days out as a monster until he learns to love. By the end of the movie, he has transformed physically and emotionally into a new person.

So there you have it: some of the most popular story plots used in movies and literature. Whether you’re telling a story for your friends or giving a speech for a project, understanding these plot structures can help you craft a compelling tale that will keep your audience hooked from beginning to end.


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