I’m looking at a fascinating book for writers called 20 Master Plots: And How to Build Them by Ronald B. Tobias (here’s the link on Amazon). While scrolling through the table of contents, I realized I’ve used some of these themes, and thought it would be fun to list them here on my blog. The ones I haven’t yet used will receive an ‘X’ – which will be my signal to go back and write that plot someday! Ready? Let’s have some fun!
Master Plot #1 – Quest
Well, that’s easy. It’s in the title of my first book, The Duchess Quest! In a Princess Bride-like yarn (okay, maybe some scenes are less appropriate than The Princess Bride), three outlaws seek a lost duchess and compete for her marriage hand. The first part of the story is the quest to find her…the second part is the quest to win her heart!
Master Plot #2 – Adventure
All of my books have strong elements of adventure, as most involve long journeys, peril, and things like treasure hunts, expeditions, and heists.
Master Plot #3 – Pursuit
Ooh. One could say The Duchess Quest is a story of pursuit – but more so a romantic pursuit. The Red Pearl is a hunt wherein the hero pursues a legendary treasure. Meanwhile, Prince Geo in The Wrong Prince pursues his kidnapped brother…along with said brother’s fiancee.
Master Plot #4 – Rescue
The Wrong Prince is, above all, a rescue mission. When Crown Prince Dmitri is kidnapped and locked up in the formidable Wintersea fortress, his brother and betrothed (respectively) stop at nothing to rescue him.
Master Plot #5 – Escape
There’s also an element of escape plotting in The Wrong Prince, as the mysterious castle ward, Pavola, falls in love with the royal prisoner and tries to help him get out. In my American Pirate Romance, Capturing the Captain, pirate’s daughter Abi attempts desperately to escape the privateer captain who’s abducted her- along with her dangerous feelings for him.
Master Plot #6 – Revenge
Oooh. That’s a good one. I’d have to say my revenge story begins with the tragedy of The Last Empress, wherein the citizens brutally overthrow the royal family of Jordinia, and ends with The Duchess Inheritance, in which the corrupt New Republic of Jordinia is delivered a vicious serving of vengeance (as is poor Jon Cosmith).
Master Plot #7 – The Riddle
THIS is one I need to work on! A riddle to be solved, a mystery driving the story! I do have an unpublished work…a ghost story…that could fit this bill.
Master Plot #8 – Rivalry
I’ve written no greater rivals than Jon and Mac in The Duchess Quest, who compete ruthlessly for the duchess’s affections. However, Capturing the Captain features rival pirates – and pirate maiden Abigail Clear is caught between them, one being her father, and the other her lover.
Master Plot #9 – Underdog
Robin Watkins of The Red Pearl is my favorite underdog. He’s a dreamer, a wanderer, the son of a batty tinkerer. He’s been knocked down in every sense of the term – deceived by his best friend and girlfriend, his treasure map stolen, and now stuck with a sheltered priestess, Annie, to boot. But together, he and Annie overcome the odds against them.
Master Plot #10 – Temptation
That’s a hot one to try. I haven’t written a book all about temptation (yet), but Prince Geo and his brother’s fiancee, Lucie, must resist their attraction to one another as they journey together in The Wrong Prince. So are Abi and Captain Morrow physically tempted by one another in Capturing the Captain; and lastly, the goddess Artemis battles the temptation to break her vow of perpetual maidenhood when she falls in love with the giant god, Orion in my book, Secrets of Artemis.
Master Plot #11 – Metamorphosis
Ooh, pick me! *raises hand* The Golden Dove is all about metamorphosis! After a bitter spat, the disagreeable Princess Talia and kindly stable girl, Mallory, awaken in the wrong bodies – each other’s! Living each other’s lives for a day – and for the night of Talia’s engagement ball – teaches them both a valuable lesson about forgiveness and friendship.
Master Plot #12 – Transformation
My greatest character transformation is undoubtedly Jordinia’s Jon Cosmith. And no, the transformation is not nearly complete by the end of The Duchess Quest, but finishes at 180 degrees in the sequel, The Duchess Inheritance.
Master Plot #13 – Maturation
I’m going to assume this is synonymous with “coming of age”. Since I don’t write much in the way of contemporary or literary fiction, I haven’t written an expressly “coming of age” novel. But most of my New Adult characters undergo a degree of sexual maturation.
Master Plot #14 – Love
All of the above! Romantic love is at the center of all of my stories.
Master Plot # 15 – Forbidden Love
We’ve mentioned Geo & Lucie, as well as Abi and Captain Morrow, but the most forbidden love is that between the goddess Artemis and Orion in Secret of Artemis, as Zeus himself, the god of gods, forbids it. The novel centers around the development…followed by the great consequences…of their romantic relationship.
Master Plot #16 – Sacrifice
Jon Cosmith in The Duchess Inheritance. ‘Nuff said.
Master Plot #17 – Discovery
This has The Duchess’s Descendants written all over it! The characters embark upon an expedition to conquer uncharted lands…only to discover them already inhabited. Within the new lands and society they find, they also find themselves…and true love.
Master Plot #18 – Wretched Excess
This means “the psychological decline of a character,” at least in Tobias’s definition. Because I write mainly commercial HEA stories, I haven’t delved into the dark literary world of addiction and decline stories. But I do have Heiress Heist, which begins with a spoiled heiress who discovers she’s about to lose her fortune. In a desperate attempt to capitalize off of her valuables, she stages a heist and hopes to collect the insurance money. Needless to say, it all goes downhill fast! Of course, it ends with a lesson learned…that a modest lifestyle really isn’t so bad, especially if you’ve got someone to love.
Master Plots #19 & #20 – Ascension & Descension
This is another plot method involving tragedy and decline, whereas all my stories are comedies. But I may reverse that, and try a plot about descension and ascension instead!
Those are the master plots I’ve written! How about you?