"A good story never dies."

-Roberta Williams


Overcoming the Monster

The protagonist (our hero) sets out to defeat an antagonistic force (often evil) that threatens the hero and/or hero's homeland.
Examples: Star Wars, Back to the Future, Rocky, Shrek

Rags to Riches

The poor protagonist acquires things such as power, wealth, and a mate, before losing it all and gaining it back upon growing as a person.
Examples: Cinderella, Aladdin, Great Expectations, Trading Places

The Quest

The protagonist and some companions set out to acquire an important object or to get to a location, facing many obstacles and temptations along the way.
Examples: The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Indiana Jones

Voyage and Return

The protagonist goes to a strange land and, after overcoming the threats it poses to him or her, returns with nothing but experience.
Examples: Alice in Wonderland, Apollo 13, Finding Nemo, The Wizard of Oz


Light and humorous character with a happy or cheerful ending; a dramatic work in which the central motif is the triumph over adverse circumstance, resulting in a successful or happy conclusion.
Examples: Ghostbusters, Young Frankenstein, Big, A Christmas Story


The protagonist is a hero with one major character flaw or great mistake that is ultimately their undoing. Their unfortunate end evokes pity at their folly and the fall of a fundamentally 'good' character.
Examples: Romeo and Juliet, Titanic, Schindler's List, Gladiator


During the course of the story, an important event forces the main character to change their ways, often making them a better person.
Examples: Beauty and the Beast, A Christmas Carol, Despicable Me, It's a Wonderful Life


Using Lord of the Rings as a reference, the 5 key elements of a story are as follows:


People who carry out the actions (could be animal or inanimate object).
Example: Frodo, Gandalf, Sauron


This is the location, or where and when the story is set.
Example: Middle Earth


A struggle against something or someone. This creates drama.
Example: Need to destroy the "one ring"


Events and actions that make up a story and happen in a pattern or sequence, as in a timeline.
Example: Taking the ring from The Shire to Mordor


Main idea or underlying meaning.
Example: Good can triumph over evil but evil is very powerful