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"Patch of Dirt:" Story Arcs and Dramatic Situations

Last year the Atlantic Monthly reported that researchers using computer systems to analyze the emotional trajectories of protagonists in nearly two thousand works of English-language fiction found that there were six basic storytelling arcs:

1. Rags to Riches (rise),

2. Riches to Rags (fall),

3. Man in Hole (fall then rise),

4. Icarus (rise then fall),

5. Cinderella (rise then fall then rise),

6. Oedipus (fall then rise then fall).

For the Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations by Georges Polti do a Google search. It's also known as the screenwriter's bible. I bought it back in the seventies for $4.00.

(From the January/February Poets & Writers (page 43) article on story arcs.)


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