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Masterplots

by Helen Chappell So you want to write, but you don’t know what to write about. It’s a myth, universally dreamed among young writers, that somewhere there is a book called Masterplots that details the archetypes of every story in the human experience. Need a plot for your book, screenplay, alibi or speech at the Rotary? Check out a masterplot and pick a pergola upon which you can hang the vine and f lowers of your story. As a matter of fact, there are several books about this very subject, but they’re complex and academic and, frankly, full of dull deconstruction guaranteed to put even the most rabid English major to sleep. I’ve spared no time or expense in distilling the world’s most basic stories into tiny, useful capsules of literature, suitable for framing. Yes, I have a still out in the marsh where I produce a finely crafted white lightning of fiction and nonfiction for the thirsty reader. The fact is, there really are only so many basic stories. It’s all in the telling. So, before you nod off, let’s dig right into the themes that have structured everything from Euripides to The Young and The Restless.

First, there’s the Universal Love story. Boy meets girl. Boy loses girl. Boy gets girl. Or vise-versa or boy-boy, girl-girl. Gender isn’t the point. The chase is the point. You’ve seen this in Romeo and Juliet, every rom-com ever made and even hard-boiled thrillers. Casablanca, Scandal, Cold Mountain ~ they all fall into this category. It’s a sure-fire winner, as long as you throw lots of obstacles in the way. And it doesn’t have to 9

June 2013 ttimes web magazine  

June 2013 Tidewater Times

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