Dear Writing Zealots and Misguided Followers,
As anyone who lives as close to Hollywood as I do can tell you, there is only one basic plot in the entire universe, and you can learn this plot and its 514 variations in one very expensive weekend seminar where, not only do you get to pitch your variation to several authentic humans but you are guaranteed to meet your soul mate in the bar off the lobby, or, in the alternative, at the AA meeting also off the lobby.
So I thought, what the hell, why don’t I just share the plot so everyone can get on with it?
This is it, in 3 ½ easy steps:
1.) I came
2.) I saw
2 ½.) I encountered all sorts of highly unpleasant although sometimes comical complications after which
3.) I conquered.
This, of course, is the unadorned hero’s journey version of the only plot in the universe. Elegant, right?
There is also:
1.) I came
2.) I saw
2 ½) I encountered all sorts of highly unpleasant and generally not that all comical complications after which
3.) I didn’t conquer.
This would be the tragic version.
Unless, of course, you’re looking for the YA tragic version, in which case step (3) should be “I didn’t conquer, but there was still a teeny, tiny glimmer of hope, or at very least, the promise of a sequel.”
But wait, you say, this is just too simple. What about genre literature and complexity and literary merit and originality and stuff?
To which I say, stuff it. You clearly lack the vision to envision the 514 simple variations. But I will try to get you started.
I came; I saw; I encountered highly unpleasant although sometimes comical complications; I married Mr. Darcy.
Or, for Chick Lit types who are also members of Mystery Writers of America --
I came; I saw; I encountered highly unpleasant although sometimes comical complications; I baked a shitload of cupcakes and solved a strangely cute homicide.
Or, for those who wish to dabble in the lucrative world of mainstream porn-- I came; I saw; I encountered highly unpleasant yet hot complications involving instruments of torture and a severely neurotic rich guy; I came.
It’s uncanny! It works just as well for Captain Underpants as for Paradise Lost! Not only that, I have just saved you from a weekend of desultory drinking off the lobby of a tacky hotel by LAX.
You can thank me later.
P.S. Do, please, feel free to post your very own variation, even if you’re a non-believer with the clearly erroneous belief that there might be, who knows, as many as 6 or 7 basic plots floating around out there.