Read Time: 5 minutes
Hey. Welcome to the Saturday Storyteller, your weekend pick-me-up that’s better than coffee because it won’t leave you jittery.
But it’ll still leave you buzzing. 🐝
Here’s what I’ve got for you today:
- Legendary tropes
- Classic & modern story alchemy
- Case studies
As a writer, it’s in your nature to look for novel ways to tell stories.
Sometimes the best way to create something fresh and exciting is by looking to the past. By mixing classic storytelling tropes and archetypes, you can begin to use the magic of story alchemy to craft narratives that feel both timeless and new.
Identifying Classic Tropes and Archetypes
Certain tropes and archetypes have stood the test of time, appearing in every genre from romance to science fiction. Such recurring motifs add depth and familiarity to stories, allowing writers to explore universal themes and ideas.
Some of the most popular tropes and archetypes include:
- A character or group of characters on a transformative journey to accomplish a specific goal or objective a la The Hero’s Journey
The Love Triangle:
- Characters torn between multiple love interests
The Coming-of-Age Story:
- A journey from adolescence to adulthood, often involving themes of self-discovery, personal growth, and identity
The Rags-To-Riches Story:
- A change from poverty or obscurity to wealth or success
- A downfall or demise, often involving themes of fate, hubris, and the consequences of one’s actions
The Revenge Tale:
- A mission for revenge against a specific individual or group
An underestimated character facing significant challenges, but ultimately triumphs through determination and grit
The Battle Between Good and Evil:
- A theme or motif that pits opposing forces or ideologies against each other, often exploring questions of morality and ethics
- A character who is a duplicate or mirror image of another character, often used to explore themes of identity and self-discovery
The Unreliable Narrator:
- A character who tells the story but is not entirely trustworthy, often creating uncertainty or mystery for the audience
The Deus Ex Machina:
- A plot device or event that suddenly and unexpectedly resolves a difficult situation, often criticized for being contrived or unrealistic
- An object or goal that drives the plot and motivates the characters, often with little importance or relevance to the story itself
By understanding classical elements, you can develop narratives that feel both familiar and innovative, connecting with readers and viewers on a deep and emotional level.
Mixing and Matching
Once you’ve sampled the classics, it’s time to start blending flavor profiles.
Thus story alchemy comes into play…
Story Alchemy is the art and process of blending classic storytelling tropes and archetypes to create new narratives.
The key is to experiment and take risks, combining different elements. Here are two approaches with the first being traditional, and the second being modern.
Traditional Writing Prompts:
Try mixing random tropes for new story ideas. Here’s a quick list of 12 recipes I brewed for you to consider writing.
1/ Quest + Tragedy
- Think “The Bourne Identity” meets “The Road,” where a character must undergo a transformative journey to discover their past while facing the harrowing realities of war, famine, or other forms of tragedy.
2/ Love Triangle + Coming-Of-Age
- Ponder “The Twilight Saga” meets “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before,” where a young woman must choose between two suitors while navigating the challenges of growing up amid embarrassment.
3/ Rags-to-Riches + Unreliable Narrator
- Imagine “Forrest Gump” meets “The Wolf of Wall Street,” where a character rises from poverty to great success while questioning the morality of their actions and the people around them.
4/ Tragedy + Love Triangle
- Picture “The Great Gatsby” meets “The Notebook,” where a character’s desire for love and loss of power leads to their inevitable demise.
5/ Revenge + Battle Between Good and Evil
- Think “Kill Bill” meets “The Dark Knight,” where a character seeks revenge against those who wronged them while confronting their own morality in a world of blurred lines.
6/ Underdog + Deus Ex Machina
- Consider “Rocky” meets “The War of the Worlds,” where a character faces seemingly insurmountable challenges but ultimately triumphs with the help of an unexpected event or intervention.
7/ Doppelganger + Unreliable Narrator
- Consider “Black Swan” meets “Shutter Island,” where the protagonist’s doppelganger represents their inner demons and the unreliable narrator blurs the line between reality and fiction.
8/ MacGuffin + Quest
- Imagine “Pulp Fiction” meets “Into the Wild,” where characters pursue a seemingly unimportant object that leads them on a transformative journey to uncover a hidden truth.
9/ Love Triangle + Coming-of-Age + Battle Between Good and Evil
- Maybe “The Great Gatsby” meets “The Hunger Games” meets “Divergent,” where a young woman must choose between two suitors while also fighting against an oppressive regime and discovering her own strengths.
10/ Tragedy + Deus Ex Machina
- Think “Frankenstein” meets “The Lord of the Flies,” where a character’s tragic circumstances are suddenly resolved by an unforeseen event or intervention.
11/ Revenge + MacGuffin + Doppelganger
- Think “John Wick” meets “National Treasure” meets “The Prestige,” where characters seek revenge against those who wronged them while pursuing a seemingly unimportant object that holds the key to their redemption.
12/ Quest + Battle Between Good and Evil
- Think “The Da Vinci Code” meets “Star Wars,” where characters embark on a transformative journey to defeat an evil force and discover their true purpose in the universe.
Modern Writing Prompt:
Try using my Legendary Story Remixer, a no code writing prompt you can simply copy and paste into ChatGPT to generate endless ideas for story development.
To ensure a smooth submission to ChatGPT, follow these four steps:
- Copy the prompt from the below box
- Access ChatGPT (login or signup)
- Paste the prompt into the text input field
- Prepare to go Whoa 😲 & spin the wheel again
WRITING PROMPT: ENDLESS STORY IDEA GENERATOR
** COPY TEXT BELOW**
Assume you are an AI specializing in inspiring fiction writers, and your role is to assist them in discovering an entertaining story concept that they can personalize. Now with this creative endeavor established…
Generate a highly unique and unexpected story idea by combining two randomly selected popular fairy tales or classic stories in a creative and imaginative way. Mix up elements such as characters, settings, and themes to create a completely new and unconventional story with a unique twist. Do not use specific character or location names and focus on creating original and unexpected plot developments. Make sure to fully describe the concept of the story including the main characters, their goals, and the setting.
** COPY TEXT ABOVE**
Examples from successful stories that have blended classic tropes and archetypes in captivating ways include:
1/ The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
- Mixes the Love Triangle, Battle between Good and Evil, and Underdog tropes as a young girl is caught in a love triangle while battling and overcoming tyranny
2/ The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
- Blends the Unreliable Narrator and Love Triangle tropes as a young woman becomes embroiled in a love triangle that reveals dark secrets and hidden truths
3/ The Pursuit of Happyness by Chris Gardner
- Combines the Rags-to-Riches and Quest tropes as a father struggles to provide for his son and achieve his dreams
4/ The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- Intertwines the Love Triangle and Tragedy tropes as a wealthy man tries to win back his lost love while being pulled into a world of corruption and greed
5/ The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
- Twists the Revenge Tale and Quest tropes as a man seeks to right the wrongs done to him and regain his status and fortune for justice
6/ The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
- Merges the Tragedy and Underdog tropes as a young man struggles with his own mental health and disillusionment with society
7/ The Prestige by Christopher Priest
- Puts together the Doppelganger and Quest tropes as two rival magicians engage in a deadly quest for the ultimate illusion and a doppelganger represents the protagonist’s inner demons
8/ Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
- Combines the MacGuffin and Underdog tropes as a young boy overcomes his humble beginnings to win a golden ticket and a chance to tour a mysterious chocolate factory
9/ The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
- Mixes the Tragedy and Quest tropes as a man confronts his past mistakes and seeks to make amends for forgiveness
10/ Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
- Blends the Doppelganger and Unreliable Narrator tropes as a bored man meets a man of mystery and becomes embroiled in an underground world of fighting and rebellion, while blurring the line between reality and fiction
11/ A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
- Stacks the Quest and Deus Ex Machina tropes as a miserly man is visited by supernatural forces that prompt him to reevaluate his life choices and embrace the spirit of the holiday season
12/ Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
- Wraps the Love Triangle with Rags-to-Riches trope as a woman from humble beginnings navigates the social elite and grapples with her own identity and values while caught between two potential suitors
Embrace Story Alchemy
By stirring classic storytelling tropes and archetypes, writers can assemble relatable but surprising experiences for readers.
Because inside the world of storytelling, there’s no harm in thinking outside the box, or realizing there isn’t one.