Ordinarily, I wouldn’t pick a story to read that gives me nightmares at night, but my book club seems to have a proclivity for picking them.
I was reading the harrowing and unusual tale with great trepidation when I suddenly came across some story elements so familiar to me that they comforted me—and it all started with a crazy wife locked in a remote section of a large house. Jane Eyre! I thought with relief, and was able to keep reading the book club selection. Sure enough, the story was on a real Gothic kick from that point on.
I’ll sometimes hear writers worry about writing a really original, breakout story.
But I really don’t think there are any really original breakout stories to be written. I think that each of us has the opportunity to do a really bang-up job on an old story in our unique voice.
It’s been said that there are only seven basic plots in all of literature. Actually, there have been said to be several different numbers of basic plots, but seven is the number mentioned most frequently.
This site lists 1 basic plot, 7 , 20, and finally, 36 basic plots.
What if there are as many as 36 basic plots in literature? That’s still not many.
And yet, with all the similarity in theme, we’re not getting bored with books. Or movies, because films are limited to these plot lines, too.
That’s because each writer brings something of themselves to the book. It could be an amazing character they created or a fabulous setting. It could be the writer’s voice in the way he tells the story.
Just the fact that the writers are all different means that their stories will be unique. Their takes on the stories will be unique. Out of the 36 plots, one writer might use a particular plot in a thriller and another might use it in a romance.
It’s our different takes on life that make plots unique.
Do you ever notice this repetition of plots in books and movies? Most of the time, I’ll admit, I don’t…each story seems very different.