The 9 Plots is in Stores Now!
Ready to write the next bestseller or blockbuster? Then you're definitely going to need an expert guide - and THE 9 MASTER PLOTS is here to help!
"Twilight" is a Hero-and-the-Monster plot with a Happy Love ending. "The Hunger Games" is Utopia/Dystopia, and "Pirates of the Carribbean: Dead Man's Chest" is a Nautical Adventure. Millions of viewers tuned in to the popular "CSI" television series, and all three variations used the Cat-and-Mouse plot. "The Lord of the Rings" is Fantasy Adventure, and "Romeo and Juliet" is the quintessential Doomed Love plot. The "Keeping up With the Kardashians" reality show is an excellent example of Family Saga!
How would you like to write bestsellers like "Pride and Prejudice" (Happy Love) or blockbusters like "The Avengers" (Epic War)? Make it easier by using the 9 Master Plots!
Each of these classic story structure plots contains key elements to help you tell timeless, yet fresh stories again and again. The 9 Master Plots can be used again and again in each novel or screenplay you finish. They work for any story, too. Once you start using them to structure your storytelling, you'll wonder how you got from page 1 to page 300 without them.
Praise for The 9 Master Plots
"This is a great writing resource for creative consistency. Genres have certain expectations and writers don't want their readers to feel let down. This book gives writers a solid foundation from which to build their own worlds and develop their own unique voice."
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"This book is zero fluff with tons of examples of each of the 9 plots and how they are often layered to create new and epic stories. Insanely useful."
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Free Sample Chapter
The Hero-and-the-Monster is just one of The 9 Master Plots and happens to be a favorite of mine! My favorite Monsters are ghosts and vampires. In this chapter, you'll meet this ancient storytelling plot and see dozens of examples of it in books, movies, and television shows.
PLOT #8: The Hero-and-the-Monster Story
Lions and tigers and bears - oh my!
- “The Wizard of Oz”
In addition to lions, tigers, and bears, there are also: ghosts, werewolves, vampires, zombies, swamp things, mummies, golems, minotaurs, aliens, beasts, giants, trolls, orcs, spiders, snakes, sharks, crocodiles, dinosaurs, germs, viruses, cyborgs, killer tomatoes, and blobs. Whew!
The Hero-and-the-Monster story is probably the oldest of the 9 Plots. A Hero faces and defeats a terrible Monster, saving their family and tribe from certain destruction. Our prehistoric ancestors excitedly relayed their beastly battles with saber-toothed tigers and woolly mammoths to wide-eyed listeners. The plot has changed little in the fifteen thousand years since European cave painters depicted these hunting stories.
Due to its age and popularity, Hero-and-the-Monster is part of nearly every ancient culture’s storytelling. In countless legends and myths, a vengeful deity sends a horrifying Monster to cause devastation and atone for human crimes. Monsters have also entered folklore, and many parents have warned misbehaving children that a nasty creature will gobble them up. Is your little one afraid of something lurking under the bed?
Famous Biblical Monster stories include David and Goliath, Daniel in the Lion’s Den, and the Beasts in the Book of Revelation. Demons, the Nephilim in Genesis, and the Book of Job’s Leviathan still terrify readers.
Ancient Greek mythology features an amazing cast of Monsters, like the Minotaur, the Kraken, Cyclops the giant, Chiron the centaur, Medusa, the Hydra, the Chimera, and the Sphinx. The heroic myths of Theseus and the Minotaur, the Legend of Perseus, and the 12 Labors of Hercules each use this popular plot.
The Medieval era featured the wonderful legend of St. George slaying a fearsome serpent-like dragon, and also produced one of the defining Hero-and-the-Monster epics: Beowulf. It has not one, but three monsters - Grendel, Grendel’s mother, and the dragon. Dragons are popular Monsters!
Fairy tale authors like the Brothers' Grimm used Hero-and-the-Monster plots to tell moralistic tales, usually featuring giants or wolves. Jack and the Beanstalk, The Brave Little Tailor, Little Red Riding Hood, and The Three Little Pigs are just a few examples.
The 19th century gave us three fantastic Hero-and-the-Monster stories. Mary Shelley's creepy Gothic tale Frankenstein kicked off the science fiction genre. We also have Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde.
Continuing into the 20th century, H. G. Wells became one of the founding fathers of science fiction when he wrote War of the Worlds, and Heroes have been battling evil aliens ever since.
This plot’s enduring entertainment value has made it perfect for the silver screen. 1950s monster movies like The Blob and Attack of the Killer Tomatoes proved you can run, but you can’t hide. Recent film favorites of this classic plot include the Jurassic Park and Terminator franchises. Paired with Utopia/Dystopia as a subplot, the main characters are lost in a dystopian world with plenty of Monsters to fight.
Zombies are also extremely popular monsters, as evidenced by blockbuster films Shaun of the Dead, Night of the Living Dead, and mega-hit TV series The Walking Dead. I guess zombies are dead!
This ancient storytelling plot has fascinated us since our earliest origins, and its popularity grows with every new novel, show, or film. Perhaps, more than any other kind of story, we want to be the Hero and slay the ‘Monster’ we each face in our lives. Let your readers feel that same level of victory as you craft your own version.
How to Write Hero-and-the-Monster:
Choosing a good Monster for your Hero to battle is the essence of this story. The Monster can be literal, symbolic or figurative. Whatever shape the Monster takes, learn from the classics and give us a Hero to root for. Whether they’re a regular guy, a superhero, a knight facing a dragon or a person overcoming a disease, this is the plot for millions of untold tales. Sometimes this story has a tragic or dystopian ending, but humans love being the dominant species and often win the day.
The Hero -
The Heroes of this plot are, well, heroic in some way. Although they may appear unassuming, when called to do beastly battle they summon their inner courage and get ready for the fight. They possess some sort of knowledge that will be helpful in the chaos to come. Some versions have an Anti-Hero consumed with their desire to play God and bring a new Monster into the world. The Hero’s driving want relates directly to the Monster - they want to kill, save, study, create, or love them.
The Monster -
Your Monster can be anything you want, as long as it’s not human. Pick a classic alien or vampire, or create something completely new. Monsters can have a huge range of character traits - heroic, terrifying, sympathetic, weird, cruel, sexy. Have fun making them unique and memorable. It is essential they have an extremely strong presence in this story.
The Villain -
The Monster could be the Villain, or you could have a separate Villain in addition to the Monster. The Villain for this plot wants to unleash chaos on the world by either introducing or aiding the Monster. They assume they can control the beast they’ve freed, but of course Nature can’t be tamed.
Act One -
Hero-and-the-Monster stories usually start out quietly, before the chaos begins. But there’s murmurings of the unknown on the horizon. The Hero either knows about the upcoming threat or is informed by another character about it. People are disappearing or there’s unexplained damages and phenomena.
Act Two -
In the beginning of Act Two, there’s usually a reveal of the Monster. They attack somebody or display their powers in some way. The normal reaction is fear and panic, since the Monster’s nature is destructive. The Hero comes on the scene to offer advice or their bravery in the fight to come. The Villain also shows up, excited by the Monster’s appearance, and starts plotting for the beast to wreak even more havoc. The Hero works with Hero Helpers to prevent further destruction and find some way to either bring the Monster down or help save them from the Villain. They also skirmish with Villain Helpers as the final climax looms.
Act Three -
The Monster and/or the Villain have created so much devastation the Hero finally has no choice but to confront them. The Hero gathers their weapon and makes the final journey to the Monster’s lair or territory. The final battle is epic and awe-inspiring. You have the choice of several outcomes - does the Hero beat the Villain and save the Monster? Does the Monster die but the Villain doesn’t? Write a great ending.
Make it a Comedy:
Shaun of the Dead, Ghostbusters, and Men in Black are silly action-packed Hero-and-the-Monster comedies. One of my favorite creature flicks is Tremors - desert-dwelling graboids feast on the unsuspecting members of an isolated Western town.
Make it Action-Adventure:
Increase the fun and frolic in a Hero-and-the-Monster tale. Both paleontologists and kids find themselves prey for carnivorous dinos in Jurassic Park. Whether stomping Tokyo or San Francisco, Godzilla represents the destructive force of Nature unleashed on society. Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim featured giant robots battling giant kaiju monsters in an action-packed extravaganza.
Make it Horror:
H. P. Lovecraft was a master at depicting monstrous elements to terrify his Heroes. The ‘creature double-feature’ monster flicks terrified audiences of the 1950’s. There are thousands of horrific Monster stories - Nosferatu, Night of the Living Dead, and An American Werewolf in London are just a few.
Make it a Romance:
Stephanie Meyers' Twilight kicked off the paranormal romance craze, and bookshelves are overrun with stories of teenagers falling in love with vampires, werewolves, demons, and angels. As a romance, the Hero falls in love with the Monster and they work together to confront the Villain. If you'd like to see a beautiful version of this, watch del Toro's The Shape of Water.
Make it a Mystery:
One of my favorite cartoons was Scooby-Doo, a cute example of combining Hero-and-the-Monster (or Dog-and-the-Monster) with a mystery subplot. It turned out every time the ‘Monster’ was just an old man who didn’t want those crazy kids meddling with his stuff.
Make it Sci-Fi:
A good chunk of science fiction genre stories features the Hero-and-the-Monster plot. Alien, Mars Attacks!, and Battlestar Galactica each have the Heroes battling space creatures. The Fly is a terrifying twist on sci-fi, with a Doomed Love subplot to add to the horror.
Make it Fantasy:
Combine Hero-and-the-Monster with fantasy, and you get the superhero comic book films that are so popular right now. The Hulk faces off against the even hulkier Abomination, Thor battles both frost giants and his own trickster brother Loki, and Spiderman defends New York against the Green Goblin.
Make it Historical:
The 19th century featured an amazing array of classic Hero-and-the-Monster examples like Frankenstein, Dracula, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and The Time Machine. Giving a beastly twist to Jane Austen has resulted in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. The 16th President grabs his trademark axe to pursue the undead in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Send your historical Hero on a journey through the past to fight off … well, whatever you can come up with!
Hero-and-the-Monster Books and Films:
David and Goliath - Daniel in the Lion’s Den - Book of Revelation - Theseus and the Minotaur - Perseus - 12 Labors of Hercules - St. George and the Dragon - Beowulf - Jack and the Beanstalk - The Brave Little Tailor - Little Red Riding Hood - The Three Little Pigs - Frankenstein - Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde - Dracula - The Time Machine - The War of the Worlds - Nosferatu - The Blob - Attack of the Killer Tomatoes - An American Werewolf in London - Night of the Living Dead - Godzilla - Gremlins - The Fly - Scooby-Doo - Ghostbusters - Alien - Tremors - Jurassic Park - Mars Attacks! - The Terminator - Battlestar Galactica - The Mummy - Shaun of the Dead - Men in Black - Twilight - Spiderman - The Hulk - Thor - Pacific Rim - The Walking Dead - Pride and Prejudice and Zombies - True Blood TV show - Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter - The Shape of Water