What is a plot? It’s a sequence of events, with one special property.
A sequence of events is this happened, then that happened. A plot is this happened, then that happened, because.
Some say there are three basic plot engines:
- Person against nature
- Person against person
- Person against God
“Person against person” includes as a sub-group “person against self.”
Some say there are five basic plot engines. They are:
- The brave little tailor
- If this goes on
- The person who learned better
- Who am I?
- How do we get home?
Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol is an example of “The person who learned better.” Dickens’ story has such a strong plot engine that it’s survived everything from Mr. Magoo to the Muppets.
Some folks add “Reader, I married him” to the list. Others add “A person leaves town” (and its inverse, “A stranger comes to town”).
I like to say that the oldest engines pull the heaviest freight.