This Is No Mere Fiction

The_Seven_Basic_Plots,_book_coverIn the literary world it is widely accepted that there are seven basic plots. Overcoming the Monster, Rags to Riches, The Quest, Voyage and Return, Comedy, Tragedy and Rebirth. All stories, whether new or old, come under at least one of these types of story plot. As well as plots, there are a number of genres these plots take place in, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Adventure, Drama, Mystery, Crime, Horror etc.

Writers have, for many generations, attempted to create stories which are original, but none of them have strayed too far from the established formula which has worked so well and come to dominate our shared creative experience.

Yet, there remains this dream to re-write (so to speak) the idea of story. In my own stories, the reader will be able to identify many of the above and there is good reason why these stories work. We are all, as it were, on a quest and our own lives reflect any one of the seven plots at various points. This is why we are able to connect with the stories so well.

7-plots-for-kidsBut what if I was to tell you about an eighth plot. What if I was to tell you that there is a perfectly unique story type never before considered, that there is a kind of story nobody has yet told. What if I was to tell you that we are, right now, on the brink of a tremendous discovery of a new kind of fiction so strange, so utterly unique, so compelling and so original, that people will be amazed, intrigued, even bewildered by it.

Well, herein lies a never before understood truth. Stories are not stories. They are not stories because they are TRUE! Now, let that sink into your mind for a moment. Go on, play with the idea for a while. Let it rebound around inside your head for a second. Ok, here it is. They are NOT FICTION. Each and every one of those stories is absolutely true. As true as any non fiction is. As true as something that actually happened, right now, to you. Like the revelation you were just now a witness to, for example.

Alice-White-Rabbit_fa_rszdNow before you try to convince me, or anyone else for that matter that what I am saying is nonsense, think about this for a moment. These stories are true not because they happened in real life, but because they happened to “real people”. Characters, as well designed as you and I, living, breathing in a world we cannot see or hear or touch or feel, but real nevertheless. These “characters” have lives beyond the fiction they are portrayed in. They live beside the words, behind the words, beneath and above the words in the book. The words on the page merely give these characters a voice, a voice they otherwise do not have. They are revealed on pages and presented to us by people called authors. These authors are entrusted with the lives of these characters, who communicate their stories directly to us from the worlds they inhabit.

ChristopherBooker7Plots_530These are parallel worlds, dissimilar and yet similar to our own. They can see us, they can hear us, they sometimes even speak to us and only those attuned to them can understand. Only those who willingly allow themselves to believe in their existence see them as they really are. Only those who have child-like belief can communicate with them. And only the author holds the secret to their world. The imagination is merely used as a key to unlock that world. A key formed and shaped by the faith of a child.

Quotation-Kinky-Friedman-great-truth-fiction-Meetville-Quotes-167349Fiction. Phweaah! I say. No such thing. There is no fiction. Everything is real. It has to be, otherwise who would believe it? A child does. They need no convincing. The author does. Otherwise he or she has no credibility. So, by that basis alone they are not fiction, but real; as real as the person reading these words is real. I cannot see you, but I know you are reading this. Otherwise, why bother writing it in the first place. I know because I am an author. I hold the key. The key is the imagination, formed and shaped by the faith of a child. I know this child. This child is YOU. You hold the key and once you open up the imagination, the whole truth of the imaginary world will be revealed to you and you will never look at life the same way again.

Oh yes there is an eighth plot. But it is no fiction.

 

Copyright©2015 Paul G Day

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13 thoughts on “This Is No Mere Fiction

  1. I’ve known about the Parallel Universe for a long time. Unfortunately, there are many who don’t understand it, and surprisingly, some of them are writers. I’ve even seen those writers accuse believers in the free agency of characters, of being mentally ill. The non-believers tend to do detailed plotting and planning, and insist that they control what goes on in their stories. Sadly, these writers seem to have untoward influence on new writers who are looking for guidance on the “right” way to write, because I’ve often seen new writers express fear and frustration about “out of control” characters.

    About the idea of basic plots: I believe it’s even simpler, and that there are only three: The Little Tailor, Boy Meets Girl, and Gains the World but Loses Own Soul. Most of the seven suggested plots are just topics that fall under the three stories. Numbering the seven plots in the order they’re presented, this is how they fall into place:

    The Little Tailor encompasses numbers 1-4, and 7. Number 7 also falls under Boy Meets Girl. Number 6 is Gains the World but Loses Own Soul. Number 5 is just an approach to storytelling, it’s not a story in itself: any tale but a tragedy can be told in a humorous way, and even tragedies will often inject some comic relief. Some tragedies also incorporate a small degree of number 7 at the very end, but it’s usually a deathbed thing for the tragic character.

    A case can also be made for there being only one “story”: Transformation. This is because the protagonist of every novel must undergo some degree of change to personality and/or motivation. In this respect, Boy Meets Girl is the most purely transformative tale, which is why love story subplots show up in novels of all genres. Falling in love provides an otherwise static personage with just enough transformation to keep readers from rejecting that character. I discuss Transformation in my post, “Spare Change” (http://wp.me/p30cCH-tD).

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  2. I have mixed feelings about the idea of there being x number of basic plots. While it can be interesting to try and look at the similarities between narratives, the quest to find a certain number of plots that you can reduce all narratives down to encourages looking for similarities rather than differences. This can sometimes suck the nuance out of stories that made them interesting in the first place.

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  3. I have never heard of the 7 plots before, but I think many stories cross the boundaries, just as they cross the boundaries of genre. Why do human beings have to limit everything by parcelling it up neatly and containing it? only the freedom to soar can create something unique and fresh. My characters are all real to me, and I welcome their ability to run riot… they create far better stories than I could on my own.

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  4. I have often thought this – thanks for verbalizing it for me. My stories are real to me, and I love the things my characters do, often without any forethought on my part. I don’t want to be compartmentalized into one of seven boxes.

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