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7 Story Plot Ideas For Creating An Unforgettable Novel
Kathryn Brown Ramsperger -- Author & Intuitive Life Coach(R) Kathryn Brown Ramsperger -- Author & Intuitive Life Coach(R)
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Rockville, MD
Thursday, March 25, 2021


Whether you’re new to  fiction writing or it’s an old hat, you’ll want to capture the attention of your readers right immediately. Unlike generations past, today’s readers work fulltime, have more than one job, are raising a family, and more. They don’t have the luxury of leisure time. The not-so-good news: books are competing against tech-driven, advanced video games and movies, and 30-second soundbites. Our attention span has shortened in our fast-paced culture. As a writer, you’ve got to hook your reader in the time it takes to say “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.” The good news: fiction is still in demand, making it all the more necessary to implement these 7 story plot ideas for creating an unforgettable novel.

Here are 7 basic story plot ideas as outlined by the late great English journalist and author Christopher Booker. For ease of use, I’ve included as many movie plots as book plots. It’s all story, and the common themes are universal. 

1. Overcoming the Monster

In this plot type, the protagonist must conquer or destroy the monster threatening his community.  You’re probably familiar with J.R.R. Tolkien’s book The Hobbit, also made into a blockbuster movie trilogy (2012–2014). The antagonist, the dragon Smaug, terrorizes the local villagers. The hero is Bilbo Baggins, who, along with his ragtag companions, must defeat the monster and bring safety and peace to the land.

2. Rags to Riches

Everybody loves a character who beats the odds, like in this plot type. The main character begins as an ordinary, impoverished, overlooked and often, mistreated person. This character ends up overcoming great odds to fulfill their potential and achieve stature, wealth, and success.  The Princess Bride, portrays the protagonists Buttercup—one of “the commoners”— and farm boy Wesley. Wesley leaves Buttercup to find fame and fortune so he can win the hand of his true love. It captured many hearts.

3. Quest

In a quest, the protagonist journeys to a faraway place to obtain a treasure or achieve a visionary goal. In the movie Lion, based on the nonfiction book A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley, five-year old Saroo falls asleep on a train car and wakes up hundreds of miles from his home. Lost and orphaned, he is adopted by an Australian couple who love and raise him. Once he’s an adult, Saroo searches for his birth mother and the little town he lived in with his siblings. You’ll need to read the book or watch the movie to see how it ends! Spoiler alert: it’s a happy ending.

4. Voyage and Return

In this story plot idea, the protagonist journeys to a new land or world that is peculiar or appears to be attractive at first glance; however, the hero soon realizes things are not the way they appear to be and s/he must make a daring escape. The Disney film John Carter is a great illustration of a hero who goes on an unexpected voyage, finds himself on another planet, and encounters a dangerous adventure.

5. Comedy

Comedy is somewhat ambiguous because it can characterize several of the other plot types. For the purpose of a general plot line, this story typically involves romance, confusion, and miscommunication, and ends happily, with moments of hilarity along the way. Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest is a classic example of mistaken identities, entangled love relationships, laughable circumstances and witty repartee. But so are many of today’s romances and bromances. 

6. Tragedy

Outcome makes a story tragic. The main character does not achieve his or her aspirations. Instead s/he experiences failure, broken dreams, and great loss, or even death. A tragic novel ends in a misfortune, which the main character can’t overcome. Some of the greatest tragedies were written by William Shakespeare: Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth. More modern tragedies include F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, and the movie Citizen Kane. Citizen Kane’s protagonist Charles Foster Kane, who grows from a happy boy to a driven newspaper man to finish his life dying as an embittered miser. It’s a cautionary tale just like MacBeth and the others mentioned. 

7. Rebirth

In this story plot, the hero is a prisoner. The antagonist, or villain, holds the hero captive or catches the hero in a spell. S/he may be in terrible circumstances, and her problems may even be of her own making. Ultimately, another character rescues the protagonist, or s/he undergoes dramatic change internally, either personally or physically. Many fairy tales employ this plot. Rapunzel is the fairy tale I relate to most. Since childhood, Rapunzel is a prisoner in a tower until she is rescued by the charming Flynn Rider. Both she and Flynn undergo personal growth as the story move along, and of course, there is a happy ending. Yet what children may not realize about Rapunzel is that her rescuer is an archetype she too carries. (That’s how to write a rebirth with an extra oomph of empowerment.) 

Once you’ve decided on the plot type for your novel, you may want to also check out Christopher Vogler’s book on outlining plot, which includes still other examples, all based on The Hero’s Journey, the term coined by Joseph Campbell. Then you’ll want to add the rest of the components that will create an unforgettable novel. And that will be the subject of an upcoming post!

In the meantime, you can contact me with questions or for more support here.

News Media Interview Contact
Name: Kathryn Brown Ramsperger
Title: Author & Coach
Group: Ground One LLC
Dateline: North Bethesda, MD United States
Direct Phone: 301-503-5150
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