According to Christopher Booker, there are only seven types of story that exist in the whole of literature, theatre and film.
- Overcoming the monster
- Rags to riches
- The quest
- Voyage and return
The Basic Meta-plot
Most of the meta-plots are variations on the following pattern:
- Anticipation Stage
The call to adventure, and the promise of what is to come.
- Dream Stage
The heroine or hero experiences some initial success – everything seems to be going well, sometimes with a dreamlike sense of invincibility.
- Frustration Stage
First confrontation with the real enemy. Things begin to go wrong.
- Nightmare Stage
At the point of maximum dramatic tension, disaster has erupted and it seems all hope is lost.
The hero or heroine is eventually victorious, and may also be united or reunited with their ‘other half’ (a romantic partner).
There are some parallels with Campbell’s Heroic Monomyth, but his pattern is more applicable to mythology than to stories in general.