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Parker's Story Types


Disciplines > Storytelling > Plots > Parker's Story Types

The ten types | See also


Here are ten story types found in screen narratives as described by Phil Parker in The Art and Science of Screenwriting.

The ten story types

The Romance

A person is missing something or someone. There is lack and desire for that thing or person. The character struggles in overcoming all or many of the barriers between him/herself and the object of desire. The closure of unity is eventually achieved.

Example: When Harry Met Sally

The Unrecognized Virtue

A virtuous person enters another world and falls in love with a powerful person in that world. The person seeks love but the power gets in the way. The person tries to help the powerful person and their virtue is eventually recognized.

Example: Pretty Woman

The Fatal Flaw

A successful person uses opportunities for personal gain, often at the expense of others. Then, seeing the damage, the person seeks to repair it, but the quality that led to success eventually leads to failure.

Example: Macbeth

The Debt That Must Be Repaid

A person wants something or someone, for which there is a high price. The person accepts the price but seeks to put off paying the debt. Eventually, though, they have to pay it.

Example: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

The Spider and the Fly

A person wants another person to do something. Lacking the influence or power to demand it, they seek to ensnare the other person, tricking them into compliance. They are successful and a new future is faced.

Example: Double Indemnity

The Gift Taken Away

A person has a gift which is lost. Seeking to regain the gift leads them into a new situation, to which the person eventually becomes reconciled.

Example: Rain Man

The Quest

A person is set a task to find someone or something. The challenge is accepted and the quest is eventually won. There may or may not be a prize.

Example: Star Wars

The Rites of Passage

A person knows they have reached a new stage in life and seeks to find what must be done to complete the transition. They pretend that they already know, then meet a challenge that shows they do not, yet also provides the route by which they achieve the full transition.

Example: Stand By Me

The Wanderer

A person arrives somewhere new and finds a problem there. In facing the problem they show why they left the last place. They then seek to move on, repeating the pattern.

Example: Shane

The Character Who Cannot Be Put Down

A person demonstrates prowess, but then faces a bigger challenge that tests that prowess. They succeed.

Example: Die Hard

See also

Parker, P. (2006). The Art and Science of Screenwriting, Bristol: Intellect Books


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