Link to this page

7 Basic Story Plots for Powerful Content Writing

Award-winning writer Kathy Widenhouse has helped hundreds of nonprofits and writers produce successful content and has gained 600K+ views for her writing tutorials. She is the author of 9 books. See more of Kathy’s content here.

All of the thousands of stories used in content writing and copywriting boil down to 7 basic story plots.

7 basic story plots to use in #ContentWriting with Word Wise at Nonprofit Copywriter #FreelanceWriting #WritingTips #Storytelling

Yes, that surprised me, too.

In a 2006 book, British journalist Christopher Booker outlined The Seven Basic Plots, which distills all stories (long or short, ancient or contemporary) to seven classic patterns.

Each plot, he explains, centers on a main character, his setback, and what happens to him.

When you use a pattern, writing formula, or template, you can save time and you can have assurance that you’re following a proven model.

So why not use these 7 story plots to outline your content writing story?

Your story will be stronger for it and it will be easier to make your point. Here’s why.

How to Use One of the Story Plots 

Like in any other storytelling scenario, a content writing story has a main character. In content writing, that character is a beneficiary of your nonprofit, a satisfied customer, or a target reader.

Think about the stories you write for blog posts, web pages, newsletter articles, and other content writing. 

  • Your character faces a problem or setback.
  • Your character uses your product, service, or answer to face his problem.
  • Your character demonstrates a transformation or a change as a result.

There are 7 variations of this pattern, but don’t you agree that your stories follow this basic framework?

Hence the 7 story plots.

As you gather stories or examples from your work, identify how your main character’s situation follows one of these patterns. Then use the story writing tips for that plot line to highlight the character’s problem, the product/service/answer he uses, and the outcome - that is, the point.

Use One of these 7 Story Plots for Your Content Story

1. Overcoming the Monster

The main character faces an obstacle, but by using your product or service is able to overcome the obstacle.

Think Star Wars or David and Goliath.

  • Story Writing Tip: use this story format when your product, service, or answer directly helps the main character overcome the obstacle.

2. Rags to Riches

The character faces insignificance, irrelevance or invalidation but uses your product, service, or answer to find significance or even exceptionalism. 

Think Cinderella or Aladdin.

  • Story Writing Tip: use this story format when your product, service, or answer helps the main character find significance.

3. The Quest

The character faces a journey to achieve a goal. Your product, service, or answer helps her make progress or helps her once she reaches her destination.

Think The Wizard of Oz or Harry Potter.

  • Story Writing Tip: use this story format when your product, service, or answer helps your protagonist reach her journey’s destination.

4. Voyage and Return

The character faces a journey into a different environment and returns wiser. Your product, service, or answer helps her gain experience or grow in the process.  

Think Goldilocks or Finding Nemo.

  • Story Writing Tip: use this story format when your product or service plays a key part of the charcter’s growth in the journey and return.

5. Comedy

The character faces a series of errors, events, or activities leading to a culminating happy conclusion.

Think Much Ado About Nothing or Tom Sawyer

  • Story Writing Tip: use this story format when your product, service, or answer plays a part in helping the character work through the chaos. 

6. Tragedy

The character’s flaw or mistake can lead to his undoing. 

Think Macbeth or Breaking Bad

  • Story Writing Tip: use this story format to present your product, service, or answer as the alternative to the character’s downfall.

7. Rebirth or Redemption

The character has an experience that causes her to change her ways, which she does by using your product, service, or answer

Think It’s a Wonderful Life, Beauty and the Beast, A Christmas Carol

  • Story Writing Tip: use this story format when your product, service, or answer helps the character make an about-face or is part of the redemptive process.

Which of the basic story plots will you use for your anecdotal story in your next piece of content writing?

More About How To Write a Story

A Simple 3-Part Story Writing Format for Powerful Content Stories ...

3 Tips for Writing Short Stories that Hook Your Readers ...

Why Telling Stories Sticks, Especially for Readers: It’s Science!

12 Places to Look for Story Writing Ideas ...

3 Story Writing Mistakes to Avoid (If You Want to Make a Point) ...

The Simple 5-Step Story Structure for Writing Quick Content Stories ...

How to Write a Story to Make a Point ...

Using Stories: Give Your Readers a Slice of Life ...

Using Stories: Get a Collection System Into Place ...

Story Formats to Use When Writing Letters ...

Tips for Getting Stories from Clients and Beneficiaries ...

More storytelling tips on our Writing Stories Pinterest board ...

Return from 7 Basic Story Plots to Nonprofit Copywriter home

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Powered by SBI! Learn more here.
Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.

Search This Site

Share This Page


Named to 2022 Writer's Digest list

Get Free Writing Tips

Stop Wasting Time!

Grab your exclusive FREE guide, "5 Simple Writing Tips You Can Put to Use in 10 Minutes or Less"

XML RSSSubscribe To This Site
  • follow us in feedly
  • Add to My Yahoo!