A friend of mine recommended a book to read, and said that it really helped her focus on her writing and get her ideas and characters in line. She lent me her copy of the book, and I finally picked it up last night to start reading it. The title of the book is really not important, as I didn’t find it helpful to me at all. However, one line in the book stood out among all the other information that was crammed into it.
Depending on what authority you consult, there are only 12, 25, or 112 different plot lines in existence. (Never mind the number – just accept that there are no truly new plots.)
After I read that line, I actually obsessed about it for hours and wasn’t able to sleep. In my mind I started to really think about the hundreds of thousands of books that I have read in my lifetime, and when I stopped obsessing (mainly because I came to a conclusion and I was sleepy), I decided that I respectfully disagree with that statement.
This is my take on it, but please, I actually would love to hear your opinion and why you feel the way you do. Don’t hesitate to disagree with me, I’m open for a conversation.
So, as far as my thinking goes – let’s pretend for arguments sake that the statement has been made as factual, that there are only 112 different plot lines in existence.
Couldn’t we argue then, that it would be dependent on genre?
Are you telling me that if you cross together Science Fiction, Fantasy, Romance, Historical, Mystery, Horror, Crime, Adventure and so on…there are only 112 (take or give of course) different plot lines across the genres? And even if we assumed that they meant 112 PER genre, I need to respectfully disagree with that as well.
Fantasy writers, as a whole, have any number of plot ideas to choose from to write. I don’t believe that it is limited to only 112. Am I looking at this wrong? Am I narrowing down what I consider to be an actual plot vs. storyline? I really don’t think I am. I think that someone isn’t looking at the overall picture, and if I am wrong, please point it out.
As a side note: Much like many authors, I have files upon files of ideas on my computer. They are just waiting for the time to write them. With that being said, I took a look at them this morning, and while I had a handful that were similar on principle, so I tossed them aside – I came up with what I consider to be 59 different plots. So if I were to conclude that there are only 112 plots, does that mean if I came up with 53 more plot ideas that prove to be nothing like the ideas I kept, will I have written every plot idea out there?
How do you feel about the quote above? Do you agree? Disagree? Why?