Warning: this content is older than 365 days. It may be out of date and no longer relevant.

Over the past week or so, we’ve had a chance to look in depth at each of Christopher Booker’s 7 Basic Plots as they apply to marketing and storytelling:

Overcoming the Monster: The protagonist sets out to defeat an antagonistic force which threatens the protagonist and the things/people/places the protagonist cares about.

Rags to Riches: The poor protagonist acquires things such as power, wealth, or a mate, before losing it all and gaining it back upon growing as a person.

The Quest: The protagonist and some companions set out to acquire an important object or to get to a location, facing many obstacles and temptations along the way.

Voyage and Return: The protagonist goes to a strange land and, after overcoming the threats it poses to him/her, returns with nothing but experience.

Comedy: Light and humorous character with a happy or cheerful ending; a dramatic work in which the central motif is the triumph over adverse circumstances, resulting in a successful or happy outcome.

Tragedy: The protagonist is a villain who falls from grace and whose death is a happy ending.

Rebirth: The protagonist is a villain or otherwise unlikable character who redeems him/herself over the course of the story.

To wrap up, I thought I’d include a very simplified decision tree to give you some sense of what story archetype you might want to use for a given situation. As printed in the image, this is by no means the “One Right Way” to use each archetype. Archetypes are like tools; there are a finite number of ways you can use a hammer safely and effectively, but an infinite number of things you can build with it.

flowchart.png
(click to download a PDF version)

May you tell your marketing stories in a much more compelling manner!


You might also enjoy:


Want to read more like this from Christopher Penn? Get updates here:

subscribe to my newsletter here


AI for Marketers Book
Get your copy of AI For Marketers

Analytics for Marketers Discussion Group
Join my Analytics for Marketers Slack Group!