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.

(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!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This