7 ways to tell a story on World Storytelling Day
A pen writes "once upon a time" across a white sheet of paper

What better way to celebrate World Storytelling Day today than to dive into how to compose a captivating story? Let’s check out the seven classic story plot archetypes and how they have shaped storytelling since the beginning of storytelling times!

Did you know that Dracula and James Bond are actually the same type of story? Or that The Lion King and Back to the Future are remarkably similar? It all comes down to the seven basic plots of storytelling, which is a structure of writing stories that are used in basically all stories you have ever read, listened to, or watched. So, lets spend this World Storytelling Day finding out more about what they are!

A medieval helmet and glove are placed on a stone step
The "Overcoming the Monster"plot type is common in stories about knights riding off to save their kingdom.

Overcoming the monster

The protagonist (hero) sets out to defeat the antagonist (villain) to save their country/hometown/all of mankind. Stories with this type of plotline are quite common in the action or fantasy genres, including everything from super evil villains to monsters that must be defeated. Examples of this type of story are James Bond, Star Wars, Jaws, Dracula, King Kong, or Beowulf.

Rags to Riches

The poor protagonist gains money (or a love interest, or both). Then they proceed to lose it, only to win it all back again. The protagonist then grows as a person, learning to value the important things in life – such as friends, family, health, or love. Examples of this type of this type of story are Cinderella, Brewster’s Millions, Aladdin, Jane Ayre, Great Expectations, or David Copperfield.

A golden ring, with elven inscriptions, is placed on a map.
The Lord of the Rings trilogy is a classic Quest story plot archetype.

The Quest

The protagonist and their companions set out on a journey of some sort. They try to get/deliver a specific item, or try to get to a specific place. They encounter many challenges and obstacles along the way. Examples of this type of story are The Lord of the Rings, The Iliad, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, or Harry Potter.

Voyage and Return

The protagonist leaves the world they are accustomed to and travels to a new, often overwhelming, place. Once there, they overcome obstacles to learn an important lesson. They then bring this knowledge with them back home. Examples of this type of story are Finding Nemo, Alice in Wonderland, Odyssey, The Hobbit, Gone with the Wind, The Lion King, or Back to the Future.


A light and humoristic story, where the plot often becomes more and more confusing. Usually this involves events like mistaken identity, misunderstandings, or conflict. Finally, one clarifying event takes place that results in a happy ending. Most love stories fall into this category. Examples of this type of story are Bridget Jones’s Diary, Four Weddings and a Funeral, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Sliding Doors, or The Big Lebowski.

Juliet's balcony in Verona.
Juliet's balcony, a central setting in the tragic story of starcrossed lovers Romeo and Juliet.


Unlike in the comedy plot, there is no happy ending to be found here. The protagonist is a hero with major character flaws, even though they are often good at heart. These flaws eventually lead to their demise. Examples of this type of story are Macbeth, Breaking Bad, Citizen Kane, Romeo and Juliet, or Anna Karenina.


The protagonist has to change their ways to become a better individual. Sometimes something like an illness, curse or enchantment affects them to poor behavior, and they must struggle to break free and become a better person again. Examples of this type of story are Beauty and the Beast, A Christmas Carol, Pride and Prejudice, The Snow Queen, or The Secret Garden.

A girl in a yellow coat has her back towards us. She is holding a smartphone
Using the StoryTourist app, you can step into one of your favorite stories. Maybe you will even be able to identify the plot archetype it is built on?

Would you like to step into one of these story plots on this World Storytelling Day? Try one of our self-guided audio walking tours, which are all based on famous stories. For example, explore the tragedy of “The Little Mermaid” in Copenhagen, or overcome the monster with “Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde” in London. Check out all the StoryTours here!

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