Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Plotting Away

I've been told that there are only 6 different sorts of conflicts to tell of when writing or reading a story:

1. Man vs. Man
2. Man vs. Himself
3. Man vs. Nature
4. Man vs. God
5. Man vs. Society
6. Man vs. Machine

This seems about right to me (assuming "man" can mean "woman"... or even "anthropomorphic being"). Let's see, Lord of the Rings would be both Man vs. Himself (Frodo fighting to stay uncorrupted by the ring) and Man vs. Man... or God, dependent on how you categorize Sauron. Lord of the Flies would be Man vs. Himself and Man vs. Society. Fahrenheit 451 is Man vs. Society, and I have no clue what Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is. I suppose this categorical list applies only to stories with a plot.

And speaking of plots, I've also been told that there are also only a few different sorts of those, too:

1. Chase (Good guy trying to catch the bad guy, or vice versa)
2. Romance (Love fulfilled or love spurned)
3. Mystery (Quest for truth)
4. Transformation (Good to bad or bad to good)
5. Origins (How something was made, or how it came to be - a history of sorts)

I'm not so convinced about this one. They seem like pretty broad categories if you ask me (which you didn't, but you are still reading, so presumably you're interested in what I have to say). But if we assume that this is the case, Lord of the Rings would be mostly Chase and Transformation (there's a wee bit of Romance), Lord of the Flies would be almost entirely Transformation, Fahrenheit 451 would be hmm... Chase? or Mystery? That one's a little more vague. And again, Hitchhiker's Guide probably doesn't count.

But what about works like fables or satires? Where would they be slotted?

At any rate, the Bible has a bit of these categories, so it MUST be good reading, right?

"Montag picked a single small volume from the floor. 'Where do we begin?' He opened the book halfway and peered at it. 'We begin by beginning, I guess.
'" from Fahrenheit 451

1 comment:

Kirk said...

hum...interesting. Well, but stories to seem to repeat themselves, so I guess putting them in categories would make sense. I've never read the Hitchhiker's Guide, so I'm not sure how it could be classified.