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The Seven Basic Plots

Roslyn Hull

The theory goes that there are only seven basic stories in the world and every tale ever told can be fitted into these plots.

Many have tried to deny this idea but stories are fluid so they both fit into anything and defy definition.

In 2004 Christopher Booker wrote an eye-wateringly long book outlining what he called The Seven Basic Plots. Let me save you the hardship of reading it by giving you celluloid examples from the past few months.


Bad Moms

This subversive treat is a comedy but it is also all the plots in one. The quest to be a good mom, overcoming the monster to go from doormats to dominators by voyaging into a world outside the household and returning, reborn.

Read the review here



So archetypal we actually call this plot ‘the Cinderella story’, and never done better than Kenneth Branagh’s gorgeous version.

Read the review here


Rogue One

Knights don’t need horses when they have X-Wing fighters in the noblest quest of all, to save the Rebellion. Vale Princess Leia.

Read the review here


Eye in the Sky

This story of long- distance warfare is thought provoking and devastating. Such a complicated conflict provokes questions and discussion.

Read the review here


A United Kingdom

In this version, the hero is a couple and the monster is the British government. Whilst not a typical monster, the British Empire, as personified by its civil servants, is truly reprehensible.

Read the review here


Hacksaw Ridge

A reviled pacifist performs his duty as a medic so diligently and well that he is reborn as an all-American hero.

Read the review here



Besides being entirely enchanting, this film takes Sophie on a journey among giants, then returns her to a world unchanged – or is it?

This article originally appeared in Magazine: Back to Basics for Autumn 2017, available for free while stocks last. Find out more about Magazine here



Ros Hull

Roslyn is a writer and storyteller who loves all things Canberra, her family, sci fi and movies – but not in that order. She has worked in museum education since 2001 and has a passion for imparting knowledge to others. Writing is her happy place, particularly if there is a dog at her feet and a coffee in her hand. More about the Author