Three, six, seven. The “official” number varies according to who you talk to and which book they’ve been reading but it’s widely recognised that there are a finite number of unique plots in the world. Try and come up with a brand new plot and you’re likely to drive yourself crazy!
But that’s not to say that as writers we can’t be original. No-one wants to trawl through yet another rewrite of Cinderella, even if she is bouncing around the universe in the TARDIS! (Okay, I admit it, I would totally read that story – but I’m sure you get my point.)
If you stop for a moment and consider how many millions of stories are published (and that’s not even taking into account all the unpublished works of genius gathering metaphorical dust on hard drives up and down the land) it’s staggering!
Millions and millions of stories from just seven plots. How is that even possible?!?
Plot all on its own is dull. It’s not really about the plot at all, it’s what you do with it. Putting characters in messy situations and watching them wiggle their way out of it. (Or not, that’s always an option too.)
And the same is true of real life. (Which of course is why I’m bothering to mention it! ? )
Ask a roomful of experts the step by step process for doing something tricky and you’ll only get a small handful of unique answers. What really makes a difference, the thing that’ll help you stand out, is how you execute those steps.
Do it with a bit of pizazz, show us who you are, inject your personality into it, and we’ll love you for it.
(Some of us, maybe even most of us. Others will hate it and might not be particularly quiet about telling you so. You’re not to pay any heed to those people. They are not your people.)
It’s like your mother always told you, it’s not so much about what you say but how you say it.
Or, to take your mother’s advice and tweak it to serve my purposes, how you show up saying it.
There are a finite number of chromosomes in the world, we’re all made of the same basic DNA, but like the millions of stories spawned from just seven plots, each of us is a unique story, itching to be played out.
Your story is yours to tell, and we definitely don’t need a rewrite! ?
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