Trying to figure out your book or story’s structure? Need some help from the classics to decide how to plot? There are at least 8 classic plot structures that are sure-fire winners:
1. Adventure: These kinds of stories are action oriented and show character’s situations changing over time. Think Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson.
2. Chase: often an action story, too, but based on a hide-and-seek mentality. Usually twists and turns are involved with lots of ratcheting tension. Think Jaws by Peter Benchley.
3. Contest: These are power struggles whether they take place as thrillers or courtroom dramas. Sometimes these can be pitted as good-versus-evil. Think Harry Potter or William Golding’s Lord of the Flies.
4. Coming-of-age: usually a young protagonist and a focus on his/her growth, whether that be spiritual, moral, or psychological. Think Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird or The Body by Stephen King.
5. Love Story: Two people meet, something intervenes to drive them apart, but then they are brought back together. Most end happily but then there’s the occasional tragedy like Romeo and Juliet. Think anything by Jane Austen.
6. Puzzle or Mystery: most are focused on a crime but can use either an amateur or a professional detective. Think Agatha Christie or Thomas Harris’s Silence of the Lambs.
7. Quest: Characters are on a life-defining journey, encountering life-altering obstacles along the way. Think Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath.
8. Revenge: An injured protagonist who retaliates–without the help of the law. Think A Time to Kill by John Grisham.
Here are 8 basic plot structures that you can always count on–they’ve been reader-tested and proven to work!