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Seven Quests


Disciplines > Storytelling > Plots > Seven Quests

Love | Money | Power | Revenge | Survival | Glory | Self | See also


Stories have heroes and protagonists, the major players who you follow through the tale. And those people have purpose, often portrayed as 'quests', which they seek throughout the arc of the story. So what may those quests be? What do people seek? These can be identified through a review of common human motivations that can be seen in the story arcs within everyday lives.


Love is a basic human quest and is often a story in itself as the suitor pursues the subject of their passion, perhaps having to overcome obstacles and give hard-won gifts to win the heart of the loved one.

Quests can also arise when the ardent suitor goes of in search of some treasure to give to the loved one, or to kill a monster (literally or figuratively) that has been troubling the loved person's family or wider tribe.


Money, mammon, has been described as being the root of all evil. Whether or not it leads to evil, it appears as a motivator in many stories, from bank heists to confidence tricksters to impoverished people who, hopefully, become rich and successful.

The story may be of money gained easily or through hard work. It may be of the monied classes who live in luxury. It can be of fortunes won and lost. It may lead to morals about money not being as essential as we initially thought, and that taking time to live is important, such as when poor people seem happier than those who are wealthy.

Money can be viewed as compressed time. I gain money through spending my time working. Then I spend it, paying others to do things that would take me even more time. In this view, all we buy with money is time. Materials could be excluded from this, yet even these could be manufactured if we could get to the raw ores, timber and so on.


Power is closely related to money, in that powerful people often have a lot of money, and may well use their power to further enrich themselves.

Power stories include those of government, war, big business, gangs and so on. It can also be told at more domestic levels, for example in situations of domestic abuse.


When we are hurt by others, or when those we like are hurt, we may well seek to exact revenge on those who have done the harm, or even stood by as the harm was done.

Revenge can become cyclic when warring parties each take revenge in repeated turn for the damage that the other party did with their previous vengeful blow. This can be seen in gang stories and feuds that may be between families or entire nations.


Sometimes stories are simply about surviving, often when faced with overwhelming odds. This may appear in stories of people surviving war, alien invasion, storms, travel through inhospitable terrain, and so on.


One of our basic needs is for esteem, where we are liked and admired by other people. A way we do this is by taking on difficult challenges, overcoming overwhelming odds and so on.

Glory stories can be seen in war, business, academics, sports, exploration and other areas. Glory comes from accolades as we set out as bold adventurers and cheers as we return home, victors and champions.


One of our most important factors is our sense of self, of knowing who we are and becoming who we are capable of becoming. This can be an ultimate journey, with many fits and starts as we sometimes learn life's lessons the hard way.

Stories about the self can be woven into pretty much any other type of story, for example as the protagonist finds power or revenge unfulfilling or survives only by discovering untapped inner strength.

See also

Campbell's 'Hero's Journey' Monomyth, Human Needs


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