As a writer or a reader, the types of stories we love reflect something about us: the kind of people we are (or would like to be), eras and places – real or imaginary – that we want to visit, characters we wish we could hang out with. (Book boyfriends, anyone?)
Whether they’re labeled ‘Heist’, ‘Road Trip’, or ‘Redemption’, we all have cherished books and movies that push our personal Like button. Sometimes they’re guilty pleasures, sometimes they’re best sellers, but reading or watching our favorite stories touches a special place in our hearts. They make our world better, even if only for a little while. They inspire us.
Screenwriter/novelist Alexandra Sokoloff believes writers especially should make their own list of story types that resonate with them. Making up our own labels gives each of us a private mental shorthand that tells our brains what to expect from the tale. Also, it’s way more fun.
Here’s a sample of her personal list, cribbed from her extremely helpful book on plotting, Writing Love. (Check out the link below!)
Caper/Heist/Con: Ocean’s 11, Inception (caper structure in a sci fi film)
Mentor Story: Karate Kid, The King’s Speech
Soul Journey: The Razor’s Edge, Eat Pray Love
Mysterious Stranger: High Plains Drifter, Mary Poppins
Note that these types of story cross genres, but they all have recognizable elements, such as ‘assembling the team’ in caper stories or ‘setting out for the special destination’ in road trip stories. Often a book or movie will fall into more than one category. ‘Thelma and Louise’ is a road trip story, but it’s also an ‘On the Run from the Law’ story.
Here are some of my favorite story structures. Naturally, you will find several historical romances. 🙂 :
The Big Makeover: Princess Diaries, Pretty Woman, My Big Fat Greek Wedding I
Master/Mistress of the Game: The Grand Sophy, These Old Shades, Second Season
Rescue/Mission: The Magnificent Seven, The Blues Brothers
Road Trip: The Lady Risks All, It Happened One Night, Angel Rogue
Noble Rogue: The Traitor, All the Ways to Ruin a Rogue
So what kind of stories talk to you?