A fascinating list of the 36 types of stories according to French Writer Georges Polti, posted on Futility Closet:
In 1916, after extensive study, French writer Georges Polti announced that all the stories in classical and modern literature could be reduced to 36 essential situations:
1. Supplication. The Persecutor accuses the Suppliant of wrongdoing, and the Power makes a judgment against the Suppliant.
2. Deliverance. The Unfortunate has caused a conflict, and the Threatener is to carry out justice, but the Rescuer saves the Unfortunate.
3. Crime pursued by vengeance. The Criminal commits a crime that will not see justice, so the Avenger seeks justice by punishing the Criminal.
4. Vengeance taken for kin upon kin. Two entities, the Guilty and the Avenging Kinsmen, are put into conflict over wrongdoing to the Victim, who is allied to both.
Two quick things.
First, I want to share something I read in Orson Scott Card’s Elements of Fiction Writing – Characters & Viewpoint. This goes back to my obsession with the anti-hero. Oh how I love the anti-hero.
Card has a very simple explanation for how to write an unlikable character who appeals to the reader and gains the reader’s sympathy. Give this character several unlikable traits. Keep those traits prominent from page one to the end. Now, along the way, weave in many other subtle traits and actions to create sympathy for this character. Keep these minor. Don’t play them up. The reader will focus on the obvious nasty behavior while slowly gaining sympathy due to the subtle goodness.
Second, Liz over in Purgatory linked to a site that sucked me in. I found this great quote about torturing your protagonist.
The writer is both a sadist and a masochist. We create people we love, and then we torture them. The more we love them, and the more cleverly we torture them along the lines of their greatest vulnerability and fear, the better the story. Sometimes we try to protect them from getting booboos that are too big. Don’t. This is your protagonist, not your kid.
And for my third book, I am on it.