The seven basic stories, part 1

“What is a story?” asked Scott Abel at last week’s Content Marketing Retreat.

“Stories are patterns, almost always about people and problems.” They usually involve a character and a predicament.

Abel, who calls himself The Content Wrangler, outlined seven different basic plots and provided video examples of each. (He also had a bonus of four other types of videos). Over the next few blogs, I’ll share the list with you.

1. Overcoming the monster

Think David vs. Goliath or man vs. machine. Think destroying a great evil that threatens the land.

See how American Express helped small businesses create and grow Small Business Saturday. They created an event that brings people to small, local businesses across the country and helps small businesses build their customer base.

2. Rebirth

The main character realizes his error before it’s too late, and does an about face to avoid defeat.

In this video, Chipotle shows a return from industrial methods that could destroy the land to traditional farming methods. The soundtrack features Willie Nelson performing Coldplay’s “The Scientist.”

3. The quest

Think Jason and the Golden Fleece. Think Frodo Baggins’ journey to destroy the Ring.

This video features IBM’s quest to “make a smarter planet.” One result? “Happier people.”

4. Journey and return

This plot usually involves the main character maturing and developing.

Expedia has done a series of videos about why people travel and how it helps them grow in some way. Here’s one about a father traveling to his daughter’s same-sex wedding.

Watch for three more plot lines in the next post.