Simple shapes of stories

by Dan on September 13, 2008

Short lecture by Kurt Vonnegut on the ‘simple shapes of stories’ using nothing more than chalk, a blackboard, and his famous wit.

From the moment we exit the womb, we tend to hear the same basic stories over and over again. For instance, one wouldn’t normally draw comparisons between Jane Eyre and Avatar, but the two actually share the same trope. You know the one: “boy gets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back.” Most literary folk agree that there are common plots on which all literature is built, though they quibble over the exact number. In this video relic, the late Kurt Vonnegut boils them down to three, which he charts on just two axes. What you get is an old-school infographic of the shapes stories take.

HT @fastdesign

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Dan Sellars September 13, 2011 at 4:38 pm

Apparently there are only 3 plots :

Boy meets Girl (love story)
Good vs Evil (morality tale)
Man against Himself ( gut check story)

Every story is a variant or a combination of one or more of those 3. 

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