Readers read recycled stories


By Silvana Bautista

McKinley students were surveyed about their favorite book or book series. Their answers were then classifies by its most dominant plot.

Silvana Bautista, Web Co-Editor

Ecclesiastes 1:9 says “What has been will be again, / what has been done will be done again; / there is nothing new under the sun.”

This holds true to book plots as well.

According to English journalist and author Christopher Booker, in his book The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories, there are only seven plots. He claims that the seven plots are Overcoming the Monster, Rags to Riches, The Quest, Voyage and Return, Comedy, Tragedy and Rebirth.

These seven plots can be seen in books, plays, movies and other types of entertainment media. Knowing the plot(s) of books you like and dislike can help you decide what to read next.

Overcoming the Monster

The main character learns of a great evil and sets out to destroy it. This can be seen in Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, The Heroes of Olympus series and The Kane Chronicles. J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series also follow this plot.

The series mentioned are all New York Times best sellers. The first two books in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series: The Lightning Thief and The Sea of Monsters were both adapted into movies. The entire Harry Potter series has also been made into movies. These series prove to be popular even at McKinley High School. The school library has multiple copies of them.

Senior Jonathan Cho said that he does not normally read for fun but he enjoyed reading both Percy Jackson and the Olympians and Harry Potter. He said the Harry Potter series, the books “had more emotion” and that the movies were “more action-y.”

Regardless of the popularity of books with this type of plot, including the Divergent and Hunger Games series, some people like certain types of stories with this plot more than others.

Senior Chanel Joy Alarca has not finished many series. She said that she did not finish the Harry Potter series, but she did finish the Hunger Games series.

To her, the fact that Harry Potter was really popular and had movies, made reading it not worth as much. She said, “Because there were movies out, [since] there were so many books to read, I might as well watch the movie.”

Rags to Riches

Rags and Riches is a story about an unfortunate protagonist who matures and gets everything he or she ever wanted in the end, such as treasure, power and the love interest.

This type of plot can be seen in many Disney movies, especially princess movies. These types of stories are remade with every new Disney live action princess movie.

This can also be seen in classics such as Jane Eyre, Great Expectations and David Copperfield.

The Quest

The Quest has the protagonist go on a search for an item with companions. The item usually has no significant reason for existing rather than to advance the story.

This can be seen in Greek mythology such as the story of Perseus, the Iliad and the story of Jason and the Argonauts.

This also includes more modern stories such as The Wizard of Oz and The Lord of the Rings.

Voyage and Return

Voyage and Return has the protagonist travel to a completely different world and return more mature.

This can be seen in Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan. The Odyssey also has this plot.

It can be seen in fantasies such as Bridge to Terabithia, Chronicles of Narnia and fairytales such as Goldilocks and the Three Bears.


In a Comedy, the protagonists (usually the male and female leads) are destined to be with each other but obstacles abound to. Eventually the protagonists would pass those obstacles and end up together. Comedies can also be subplots in many other types of stories.

The comedy plot is common in many romance books, such as those written by Nicholas Sparks. The fact that his books have become movies show that there is a demand and like for them.

Comedies can also be seen in classics such as those by Jane Austen and William Shakespeare.

In a survey conducted by The Pinion, comedies were very popular among the students. Comedies can also be subplots in many other types of stories.

Senior Malia Blanch said that she likes to read, but it depends on the genre. In the survey conducted by The Pinion, 50 Shades of Grey was one of the most favorite comedies at MHS. Blanch is one of those students. She also watched the movie but she said that it had a “messed up ending.”


The Tragedy is similar to Overcoming the Monster but the main character is the villain. The villain will lose his or her power as the story progresses before ultimately dying and freeing the world from his or her tyranny.

Many of Shakespeare’s plays fall under this category such as Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, and Julius Caesar.


The Rebirth is similar to the Tragedy but the main character changes or fixes his or her flaw, therefore preventing their complete downfall.

This can be seen in fairy tales such as Sleeping Beauty, The Frog Prince, Beauty and the Beast, and The Snow Queen (adapted to Frozen).


The production of movies show the demand of these types of stories but the movies do not always hold true to the original. Sometimes, the stories are altered to suit the new type of media, while other times, the stories remain relatively the same.

These seven plots are the complete basics. As seen from the varying titles of books, plays, fairy tales and movies, these plots can show up in books that a person would otherwise think are completely different. These plots exist as a backbone and it is up to the author, playwright, storyteller, screenplay writer and director to decide what type of situation with what type of characters to use. It is also true that a story does not have to stay true to one particular plot as it can have a mixture of two or more.

Which type of plot(s) does your favorite book or series have?

Challenge: Name a book or series that does not fall into one of these plots. Main plots and subplots count.