Book Review – “20 Master Plots and How to Build Them” by Ronald Tobias

20 Master Plots: And How to Build Them

Plots are very important when it comes to writing a book.  Without a plot, you just have a story.  A story tells you what happed, but a plot tells you what happened and why.  If you don’t know why something happens in a story, it can be very unfulfilling and boring.

When I started writing my book, I knew the story.  But in order to make it compelling, I had to make sure I had a decent plot.  So I bought this book, “20 Master Plots and How to Build Them” by Ronald Tobias.  This book was very helpful.  I learned that there is so much more to a plot than just the how and why.  Building a plot is also about building character motivation and significant events.

You may have heard that there is no such thing as an original plot.  Stories have been evolving for thousands of years, you’d think we could come up with something original.  But of all the millions of stories ever told, they all follow basic plot standards.  What makes the story original is the way the story folds around the plot – your characters, the setting, and the story’s twists and turns.

According to Ronald Tobias, there is no real set number of plots.  Some authors have claimed to have more than twenty.  But if you analyze the additional plots, you will find that they are really just a variation of one of the other plots.  Even Ronald’s twenty plots are similar to each other.  For example, the metamorphosis plot is similar to the transformation plot which is similar to the maturation plot.  In the metamorphosis plot, you have a character who changes into something else (like The Fly).  In a transformation plot, you have a character who changes within (like in My Fair Lady or Pygmalion).  And in the maturation plot, you have a character who learns something in childhood which brings him closer to adulthood (like Stand by Me).  All three of these plots are similar in that they are about a change in the character, but Ronald Tobias has decided to make them into three separate plots.

Other plots include the adventure plot (Indiana Jones), rescue plot, rivalry plot, riddle plot (mystery novels), love plot (not as generic as romance novels), and many more.

These 20 plots are guidelines only.  Nothing in story writing is black and white.  Also, your story can have a major plot plus a few smaller sub plots.  Writing a fantasy novel can have many plots.  The hero may rescue a damsel in distress while at the same time trying to solve a mystery or fight off a rival.

To write an effective story, you may want to consider reading Ronald Tobias’ book, “20 Master Plots and How to Build Them“.  You can purchase this book at our Amazon.com affiliate store, Writing a Fantasy Novel.

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