Only 20 basic plots: The Big Secret behind Story Telling and Software Development

I realized, or perhaps, discovered an interesting theory today: there are only 20 basic plots in any story or movie we have ever seen or read.

And here’s the proof -

Think about it…

EVERY story or movie you have ever read, seen or heard of is based on one (or more, as subplots in the story) of these 20 elements.  Is the story about the underdog facing overwhelming odds and finally overcoming the hurdles he/she faces to emerge a winner? Is the story about revenge? Escape? Pursuit? Or Rescue? Is it about Love, Rivalry, Forbidden Lover or Maturation?

If that’s the case, aren’t we just paying good money to re-visit stories we already know? Aren’t we simply paying for the “interface” in the form of “beautiful” people (actors/actresses), new characters, nicer backdrops and sceneries, beautifully crafted stage props and associated tools?

Yes, it seems that people are prepared to pay for entertainment (even if it is a rehash of an old story plot); and no one bats an eyelid reading news about movie production costing tens or hundreds of millions of dollars

And here’s the interesting bit – like producing indie movies by small, independent movie producers, the cost of producing small/indie software is small and non-existent, particularly if the founders/owners are software developers themselves.

For large-scale software – just like big movies – however, it does take significantly more resources and investments to make it work.

It doesn’t matter that the 20 story plots are reusable. It doesn’t matter that “software components are open-source and reusable”.  The true value (for consumer oriented apps at least), really lies in helping the end user solve a problem or entertaining, engaging and delighting the end user.