These don't actually contradict Campbell, McKee, Propp or Vogler but flesh out and fine tune some story lines. The rest of Booker's book discusses story in more detail. It is well worth a read and after you've read it you may want to go back to it from time to time.
You can take a short-cut to remembering the seven plots by just looking at the cover of the book. You'll see what I mean if you look at the link below.
Here's a summary:
The Seven Plots
Overcoming the Monster
Rags to Riches
Voyage and Return
Overcoming the monster
Rags to Riches
Initial wretchedness at home (call)
Out in the world – initial success
Independence and the final ordeal
Final union, completion and fulfilment
Journey to the underworld
Arrival and frustration
Voyage and return
Thrilling escape and return
- Characters dressing up in disguise or swapping clothes
- Men dressing up as women or vice versa
- Secret assignations when the wrong person turns up
- Characters hastily concealed in cupboards etc.
Types of comedy:
- Dark figure is hero themself
- No dark figures
Macbeth (and other tragedies)
Act One - anticipation
Act Two – dream stage
Act Three – frustration stage
Act Four – nightmare stage
Act Five – destruction stage
Hero falls under shadow of dark power
Threat may seem to recede
Threat approaches with full force
Dark power seems to triumph
Miraculous recovery – some input from hero, though
Booker also mentions some common archetypes:
- Good old man
- Innocent young girl
- Rival or “shadow”
As well as archetypes, Booker identifies some common dark figures:
- Other self
Booker also defines an underlying shape that is very similar to the ones we've met before.
- Initial phase
- Opening out
- Severe – constriction
- Dark power dominant
- Reversal and liberation
Consider the novel you have most recently read. Which of Booker's stories does it conform to? Does it follow the underlying shape? Can you identify any archetypes or dark figures?
1.Your work in progress
Take a look at your story. Does it follow one of Booker's templates? If not, would making it adhere more closely also make it more effective?
Would the inclusion of additional archetypes or dark figures make it more engaging?
2. Start a new story
Take one of Booker's templates that appeal to you. You might like to consider one you've not used before. Now craft a story according to that template.