Tuesday, 6 July 2010

The two types of plot

Somebody once told me that there are only two plots in all fiction: boy leaves home and stranger comes to town. As metaphorical as they are, I'm not sure I trust it. Let's have a look at various film, book, and TV things:
  • The Road There's a lot of leaving home going on here. They find that nice bunker full of peaches and then they leave again. So it happens more than once.
  • Doctor Who In general this seems to be both. The assistant leaves home because the Doctor has arrived, who is pretty strange.
  • The Bourne Identity He's on a journey, but was he ever at home to begin with?
  • District 9 Lots of scaley strangers coming to town. Also, the protagonist is turning into an alien, so that can't be very comfortable.
  • The Lion King It's Hamlet, right? And in Hamlet people go mad, which is strange. This is maybe stretching it slightly. Shakespeare is awkward.
  • Taken Boy leaves home to kill everyone in France. Technically he's an ex-CIA operative, but lets say boy.
  • A Knight's Tale He's definitely leaving home here. He goes back at the end but that doesn't count.
  • Pride and Prejudice Stranger comes to town. In Jane Austen it is always stranger comes to town.
  • Lost Everything at once from ten different viewpoints and alternative timelines. Also: polar bears.
  • Lord of the Rings Probably the definition of boy leaves home.
Does it work? Maybe. But then you could easily write a story that doesn't follow the rules, just to be sly. I did not include sly artists in this list.


  1. What about us grils?

    We are siblings in lion imagery.

  2. Now I'm going to spend the rest of my afternoon thinking of fiction to disprove this theory. Hm.

  3. Reminds me of when Godard said that the history of cinema is the history of boys filming girls.