Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Eight Original Stories

This article was written more in relation to movies than books, but it's still an interesting read: "The Eight Original Stories" by Scott R. Garceau of The Philippine Star. He writes how he can relate any movie to one of eight classic stories, and says there are templates--cookie-cutter stories--that keep coming back. An excerpt:

“Go ahead. Give me any movie. And I’ll tell you where it comes from.”

It sounded like a party game, some drunken bet shouted out from the end of the bar, or raised in the middle of a cocktail party by some boisterous boor. But I felt like I could knock any takers out of the ballpark.

“Surely you’ve heard about the eight original stories? The fact that 99.9 percent of Hollywood scripts and movies derive their basic plots from Greek mythology, folklore and well-known fairy tales?” I was being relentless, obnoxious. I was sick of hearing people describe such-and-such a movie in breathless tones and tacking on, in apparent reverential disbelief, “How did they ever come up with that story?”

Well, it’s easy when there’s only eight of them.

Let’s face it. You get a little tired of Hollywood product after a while, after three or more decades of watching the stuff, and you begin to realize there’s a certain template — not just genres like “horror,” “comedy,” “mystery,” but actual templates: cookie-cutter stories that keep coming back, season after season.


Anonymous crysta said...

Cool article! I also attended a seminar in Sydney in which a Hollywood screenwriter laid out all the essential parts of a blockbuster...all the stuff about the first five minutes to the midpoint / turning point to the end.

An odd thing about that article is that it described Candide as a woman; Candide's a man (although from the way he's usually foppishly drawn in pictures, I guess a mistake could be made. XD)

3:02 PM  
Blogger pgenrestories said...

Hi, Crystal! Yeah, I remember reading your blog entry about that seminar! Pretty formulaic, and it was a mild surprise for me.

8:49 PM  

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