Devious Plots part 5: More plot store!

 This is part of a six-part series on plot. You can find the other parts here:
~Devious Plots, part 1: If Stephan King doesn't do it, why should I?
~Devious Plots, part 2: What is this "plot" you speak of?
~Devious Plots, part 3: Don't put the toilet in the living room
~Devious Plots, part 4: Plot store
~Devious Plots, part 6: Plot store, final sale!

Welcome back to the plot store! Today we're having a sale on numbers thirteen through twenty-four of the Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations by Georges Polti.  Come on in and look around!


13. Enmity of kin

This situation requires a Malevolent Kinsman and a Hated or reciprocally hating Kinsman.

Summary and Examples: Two relatives hate one another (and act accordingly) This is broader than the Rivalry of Kin situation below because it does not require a specific object to be fought over. An example would be the brothers Don Juan and Don Pedro from Shakespeare's play, Much Ado About Nothing.

14. Rivalry of kin

This situation requires The Preferred Kinsman, The Rejected Kinsman and The Object.

Summary and Examples: Two relatives compete over an Object, often another person who shows more favor to the Preferred Kinsman and shows less favor to the Rejected Kinsman. This plot is as old as Cain and Abel. It's a classic favorite for love triangles too, usually two brothers fighting over a woman as in the movie Legends of the Fall. Or the Object can be a position in the family, as in the second Godfather movie .

15. Murderous adultery

This situation requires two Adulterers and a Betrayed Spouse.

Summary and Examples: Adultery turns to violence as an Adulterer seeks to remove the Spouse or turns on the other Adulterer. Two words:  Fatal.  Attraction.

16. Madness

This situation requires a Madman and a Victim.

Summary and Examples: A person becomes temporarily (or permanently) Mad, losing control and harming the Victim. Melded with Falling prey to cruelty, which we talked about on Wednesday, this situation is a good set up for a psycopath story such as Stephen King’s Misery.

17. Fatal imprudence

This situation requires the Imprudent; a Victim or an Object Lost.

Summary and Examples: The Imprudent person loses an Object or causes harm to the Victim through unthinking imprudence, curiosity and general carelessness. This is the classic Pandora's Box senario.

18. Involuntary crimes of love

This situation requires the Lover, the Beloved and the Revealer.

Summary and Examples: The Lover performs acts of love with the Beloved, only to find (via the Revealer) that the Beloved is a close relative. This one is hard to pull up examples for because this situation is often used for a big twist at the end, and I don't want to be spoilery.

However, the classic example of this plot is Oedipus, who killed his father and married his mother. The Oedipus story is a good example of the combining of situations as it combines Involuntary crimes of love with the next situation, the Slaying of an unrecognized Kinsmen.

19. Slaying of an Unrecognized Kinsman

This situation requires the Slayer and the Unrecognized Victim.

Summary and Examples: The Slayer kills (or nearly kills or harms) the Unrecognized Victim, who is actually a relative or friend of the Slayer. Thus a seemingly justified act suddenly becomes unjustified. See Oedipus above.

20. Self-sacrifice for an ideal

This situation requires the Hero, the Ideal and the Creditor or the Person or Thing Sacrificed.

Summary and Examples: The Hero gives up something for the sake of an Ideal, such as in the movie Elizabeth, where Elizabeth I gives up the opportunity to marry in order to become The Virgin Queen.

21. Self-sacrifice for kin

This situation requires a Hero, a Kinsman and either a Creditor or the Person or Thing Sacrificed.

Summary and Examples: The Hero gives up something in order to help a relative or friend. This is a popular end for stories, such as in The Tale of Two Cities, and Armageddon, where the hero sacrifices himself to save the others.

22. All sacrificed for passion

This situation requires a Lover, the Object of the fatal passion and the Person or Thing sacrificed.

Summary and Examples: The Lover is impassioned by the Object to the point where they give up the Person or Thing, perhaps unwisely, blinded as they are their passion. Sometimes the thing sacrificed is everything, as with Gollum in the Lord of the Rings. The Ring is also a great example of an Object, something that can inspire fatal passion in everyone who sees it.

23. Necessity of sacrificing loved ones

This situation requires a Hero, the Beloved Victim and the Necessity for the sacrifice.

Summary and Examples: The Hero is forced to sacrifice the Beloved Victim, based on the Necessity.  This is similar to sacrificing all for passion, but is more specific. I can't think of any good examples at the moment, but feel free to add some in the comments if you can!

24. Rivalry of superior vs. inferior

This situation requires the Superior Rival, the Inferior Rival and the Object of Rivalry.

Summary and Examples: The Superior Rival is set against an Inferior Rival, both vying for the Object of Rivalry.  This is the plot for most underdog stories, such as Hildago and Million Dollar Baby.

Be sure and check back on Monday for the rest of the Thirty-Six Situations. And feel free to leave any questions or examples in the comments!


  1. Who says there's nothing to write about? So many deviations and twists. Choose one and make it yours.



  2. I don't think I could ever write #23. Too sad. It reminds me of Toni Morrison's Beloved.

  3. Jaycee- Isn't it awesome! I love them too.

    Missed- That does sound like a sad one. I don't think I could ever do it either.

  4. Many thanks for your hard work at putting this together.
    N. R. Williams, fantasy author

  5. You're welcome! It was good for me too, especially looking up all the examples. :)


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