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Survival stories

 

Disciplines > Storytelling > Plots > Classic story types > Survival stories

Description | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

Survival stories typically start either with a group of people on an adventure trip to a dangerous place or with an accidental marooning such as a shipwreck or plane crash. They then first have to stay alive in a possibly-hostile environment, finding food, water and shelter. They may either wait for rescue or try to make their way back to civilization.

In this scenario the true characters of the people emerge. Heroes and leaders emerge to help them battle nature and sometimes bandits, pirates or other lawless people. Selfishness may also appear and the party may fragment.

Along the way some people get hurt and even a simple accident can be fatal for lack of medical treatment. As they get more desperate, people may also be killed in fighting or some other senseless event.

Eventually they find their way home, a little bit older and a great deal wiser.

Example

Deliverance
Robinson Crusoe
South

Discussion

As stress causes splits and selfishness, survival stories remind us of how thin the veneer of civilization is and evokes a deep fear of chaos and lack of control. This is coupled with triggering the fear of death as people are physically hurt and die. The constant uncertainty thus sustains tension and keeps us on the edge of our seats.

We are also reminded of good human characteristics as people struggle against the elements and the odds. The heroes may well be ordinary people, like us, and we easily put ourselves in their shoes.

See also

Rescue stories

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