Thursday, June 11, 2015

Flashback Friday - Seven Basic Plots

Welcome to Flashback Friday! Instead on re-inventing the wheel, I'll be sharing some of my favorite posts. Today I'm bringing back a post made on December 20, 2012 which I titled: Seven Basic Plots.

"Everything worth writing has already been written." This is an old saying that will undoubtedly turn out to be only partially true. Many scholars agree that there are only so many plots that can be written. Although the number varies greatly, depending on who you ask, perhaps the most well-known list of plots are the seven types of conflicts.

  • Man vs. Nature
  • Man vs. Man
  • Man vs. Environment
  • Man vs. Machines/Technology
  • Man vs. The Supernatural
  • Man vs. Self
  • Man vs. God/Religion

If this is it, then where do we fit in? Why do we write? Because the beauty lies in the details. The number of different characters that can be written is infinite. And each character will handle the same conflict in an entirely different way.

Each setting that a writer creates challenges these characters in different ways. Unless you go about to consciously copy a novel, it won't be the same as the one before it.

We have to remember that when we write, it's not an exact science. There is the thrill of deciding how to tell the story we want to tell. That's half the fun!

If you truly believe in your story, then it's worth writing. What do you think?


Attention: The official launch of my new book Galaxy Nomads: Chronicles of the MacKenzie Clan is coming June 17th! Celebrate with me at


  1. I think planning a story is most of the fun. :) Happy weekend.

    1. Mary: You are so right. The twists and turns make it your own.

  2. I've read many times that there are only so many basic plots. It's funny how it's always a battle, man versus soemthing.

    Susan Says

    1. Susan: I have tried to think of different kinds of plots, but they seem to always fall back on one of these. I'm sure some original thinking author will have a different idea and I'd like to see what it is. Hopefully it won't be too boring. Usually you need a conflict of some kind, unless it's a cook book.

  3. I totally agree! Now a days the difference is more woman vs. conflict, and that's all right. Look at the number of rewritten fairy tales, the number of movies remade and remade and remade again, and yet most make more than it cost to make them, that's success. Tell your story in your way, with your characters, conflict, and solutions! Readers love reading - go for it!

    1. Hi Yolanda! Welcome! When I used man vs. whatever, I guess it wasn't politically correct. I meant man/woman vs. conflict. But yes, now there is more written with women as protagonists. It is good to see.

  4. I suppose with all the great sci fi stories out there, now we have to be specific:
    human vs whatever
    human vs alien
    alien vs alien

    But the best is one I thought of is from one of your comments above to Susan:
    human vs boredom

    ha ha to ... "unless it's a cook book". Now that's funny!

    1. Retta: Oops! I guess I didn't add the aliens in as a separate entity. You could very specific, but I think the categories still fall under the same ideas as the other ones. Maybe?
      Oh! You forgot: man vs. machine