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Masterplots Theater: A is for Adventure

Masterplots Theater

Welcome to Masterplots Theater!  Our third year participating in the Blogging From A to Z Challenge.

Perhaps you’re sitting in a comfy chair right now plotting a new story. It features a brilliant and daring scientist. Your character is short on emotional entanglements, but long on project commitment and wanderlust. You love to research exotic settings. You write fast-paced action with ease. Your favorite characters are fearless Alpha heroes, people who live on the edge. It’s possible you’re a budding adventure writer without knowing it. Take a look at the plot notes and examples of the adventure masterplot and find out if your story fits.

Classic Adventure Plot Notes:

Unlike a quest plot, which we will be covering on April 20th, the adventure plot is all about the journey. It’s action driven.

While some writers can craft killer urban adventures, most writers put their adventure stories in an exotic setting. This could include finding a lost tribe in the Amazon or doing some deep sea diving to discover a sunken ship.

This plot will involve danger! High tension and lots of external conflict make for dramatic storytelling. The pace is not as fast as a thriller, but it comes darn close.

Danger requires special characters; characters who jump out of planes and run into the unknown with a smile on their face and a knife strapped to their thigh.



The profile of this hero is brave, self-assured and knowledgeable. Some are near genius in one or more areas of expertise. It never hurts if they’re slightly dishonest.

Adventure plots mostly follow a series of linear cause and effect events. These events are often outlandish, but ultimately they dovetail together in a way that makes sense.

This masterplot often omits a character arc, meaning the hero is emotionally unchanged by the adventure, and start and end the story as pretty much the same type of person. Although there can be a romance (or bromance) element, there’s little room in an adventure for long emotional detours.

The energy and focus of this plot is on capturing a prize at the climax. The hero might return richer, as was their goal, or perhaps return wiser. Because of the high degree of difficultly, the adventurer hero is sometimes just happy they lived to adventure another day.

Example to Study:

One of the best films with a classic adventure plot is Raiders of the Lost Ark. Here’s why:

Raiders· SETTING: A varied and exotic travelogue: Egypt, Peru and Mongolia. Who wouldn’t want to visit these destinations?

· CHARACTERS: Strong central figure (Dr. Jones) who is convincing when thrown into a vast array of dangerous situations. This one factor can make or break the best adventure plot.

· PLOT: Even though the adventure story is frequently outlandish (finding a super weapon made up of the dust from the Ten Commandments), it still falls within a larger framework of possible, if not probable.

· BONUS: Prizes worthy of the peril. The end goal should justify the risks. We can’t help but respect Indiana Jones for risking his life to keep a powerful weapon out of the hands of Nazis. If an adventure hero is reckless without sufficient motivation the adventure plot would start to fall apart.

Future Research:

There are many classic adventure writers, like Jack London, Rudyard Kipling and Robert Louis Stevenson. Or you can read more recent contributions from authors like Clive Cluster or Michael Crichton. Reading these stories should help reinforce the key points of crafting the adventure plot.

Thank you for joining us today, we hope you enjoyed A is for Adventure and we invite you back tomorrow for our next installment of Masterplots Theater, B is for Buddy Love.

Please share your own adventure writing tips, or titles you love in the comments.

About the author

Robin Rivera

Robin trained as a professional historian and worked as a museum curator, an educator and historical consultant. She writes dark young adult fiction, with diverse characters. She's currently querying a novel, and working on two new manuscripts that started off as NaNoWriMo projects. You can follow her on Facebook(https://www.facebook.com/robin.rivera.90813) or on Twitter @robinrwrites. However, Pinterest (https://www.pinterest.com/RRWrites/) is where her inner magpie is happiest of all.

Permanent link to this article: http://writeonsisters.com/writing-craft/a-is-for-adventure/


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  1. IB Arora

    started late but intend to read all posts

  2. Lissa Johnston (@Lissa_Johnston)

    Thx so much for this theme. Couldn’t come at a better time for me. Ready to drill down on mastering genre after listening to Story Grid and Writing Excuses podcasts.

    1. Heather Jackson

      Fantastic! Glad you found our Masterplots series. 🙂

  3. Dahlia

    I used to love adventure fiction but I dont think i would be able to ever write one. I have read and enjoyed Clive Cussler, Michael Chrichton but I was a huge fan of Alistair Maclean as well – I dont think I have missed a single one. Thanks for this post.

    1. Robin Rivera

      Hi Dahlia,
      Every masterplot has fans. Adventure is my go to plot. I love to write these type of stories. But it’s not for everyone. Some writers are much happier with more character driven plots. The good thing is there are so many masterplots. I’m sure we will hit on one you would love to write.

  4. Bathsheva

    Hi Robin,

    Love your site! I’m following.



    1. Robin Rivera

      Thank you! I’m glad you like our site. A to Z is always a great way to make some new friends. I was over at your site yesterday. : )

  5. Robin

    That’s interesting that the hero doesn’t need to change in an adventure story. That sparks an idea for a story I started but didn’t finish. My son keeps pestering me to do so. Plus it was the first one I set in a foreign spot so needed to do a lot more research. We like Indiana Jones so time to watch again and pay attention to the plot elements and the heroes quest. I always start out watching movies with the intent to analyze and get caught up in the story. Thanks for the sparkage. 🙂

    1. Robin Rivera

      Good luck! It sounds like you have a great start, a foreign setting and a hero who is fully formed and not interested in changing much. : )

  6. melissasugarscriptcom

    This is the best theme. I will be here everyday. I write thrillers and I’ve always struggled with the character arc. I remember learning somewhere (dramatica pro) I think, that some protagonists can remain steadfast in their resolve and pretty much unchanged and I believe the only example they had was Kimble, the main character from The Fugitive. He didn’t change much, but he remained steadfast in his declaration of innocence and his resolve to prove he didn’t kill his wife, but he didn’t undergo any major character transformation. I wish I had other examples – other films or books where the MC didn’t undergo a major character arc or transformation to study/compare/contrast. I know you’ve listed many in the adventure genre, so I can’t wait for you to get to the thriller genre. I’m assuming since you’ve written that the pace of an adventure is almost as quick as a thriller that the same character arc theory also applies in thrillers, but I’m getting ahead of myself here my quite a few letters.

    Thanks for the examples. I learn best by example.

    Sorry, but my WP info isn’t correct. I created that last year so I could comment on WP blogs during the A to Z challenge. I’m number 929 on the sign up list.

    Melissa Sugar
    Twitter @msugar13

    1. Robin Rivera

      Hi Melissa, Love your enthusiasm!

      The line between thrillers and adventures is thin and highly subjective.
      For me it’s about time spent acting vs. reacting. Also about the singularity of the goal. Adventures often start with a clear goal (find the treasure) and they never stray from the path. Thrillers can and should have new goals introduced at any time in the story. Also thrillers love a big midpoint reversal, something that makes the hero change his path and rethink his actions. It’s also more common for thrillers to include the character arc, although you can find thrillers without them.

      Another great example of a character that almost never has a character arc is James Bond. He’s been pretty much the same character since the 1960s, even through countless books and movies, with only a few notable exceptions. And I do consider the original Bond books adventures, and not thrillers. But I can see why people might disagree with me on that score.

      Let me know if you have trouble finding more examples, I’m happy to help.

  7. Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor

    Very useful series for a novice writer like me! I like how you illustrate how the plot is structures with examples.

    Cheers – Ellen | http://thecynicalsailor.blogspot.com/2016/04/b-is-for-boatyard-nancy-drew.html

    1. Robin Rivera

      Hi Ellen, I’m happy you like our theme. It was a quirky idea for A to Z, but proving to be fun. : )

  8. Sharon Bonin-Pratt

    Ugh, just remembered you listed several adventure writers at the bottom of the post. Thanks.

    1. Robin Rivera

      Hi Sharon, I have many others names if you find those listed too thrillerish. A lot of the old classic writers loved this masterplot. You can find good examples from Jules Verne, H.G. Wells and H. Rider Haggard to name a few more.

  9. Sharon Bonin-Pratt

    Really appreciate the detailed description of adventure stories. You mentioned Raiders, but can you identify a book that’s adventure but not a thriller? Thank you, Robin. Looking forward to B.

  10. notarize123

    Well said, The end goal should justify the risks. This makes a story and often justify collateral damage although that is open for debatel

    I’m exploring different types of dreams and their meanings during the #AtoZChallenge at Stephen Tremp’s Breakthrough Blogs

    1. Robin Rivera

      Hi Stephen, I spotted your dream theme yesterday and loved it. I think all writers have great dreams.
      Every story needs balance. If the characters risk their lives without reasons I think the writer can lose some creditably with the reader. I have definitely read books where pulling back a bit would have been a good idea. : )

  11. Sharon Himsl

    One of my favorite genres and just wrote. I found a way to sneak in a romance, but you’re right. It can’t take over. I had to tone it down.

    Pioneer Women in Aviation A-Z

    1. Robin Rivera

      Good job! It’s so hard to work a good romance into an adventure plot.

  12. Nilanjana Bose

    Wow! That’s some serious help for writers. Particularly liked that you pointed out that the action hero doesn’t really follow a character arc. Excellent start to the challenge. A for Amazed!


    1. Robin Rivera

      Thank you! I’m so glad you liked it. You verse theme is fabulous. That B post was very funny stuff.

  13. LillianC

    This looks like solid gold writing guidance. I’ll be back for more. Thanks for stopping by my blog. Wishing you a happy A to Z strewn with the flowers of inspiration!

    1. Robin Rivera

      Thanks! Hopefully, those flowers will be tulips. : )

  14. sarahallanauthor

    I love a good adventure story! Indiana Jones is a favorite, and we’re playing the latest Tomb Raider game now. Great first post!

    1. Robin Rivera

      Thank you! I’m also a gamer, but it’s been a while since I’ve played Tomb Raider. Now I have the urge!

  15. Francis H Powell

    Looks a very well thought out blog post

    1. Robin Rivera

      Thank you! The masterplots posts were fun to research and write.

  16. N Burggraf

    Great post. Thank you. I love adventure/thriller stories, both reading and writing them. Look forward to reading your posts. Have a great weekend.

    1. Robin Rivera

      Thank you! I’m so glad you liked the post. Adventures are some of my favorite stories and films too.

  17. Gulara

    Is Azerbaijan sufficiently exotic location 🙂 Maybe I should fictionalise my book! There’s definitely enough adventure in there.
    Thank you very much for your insightful post.

    1. Robin Rivera

      Azerbaijan is not a very common fiction location, so I think it should qualify. : )
      Please do it! It would be so fun and I’ll help you!

      1. Gulara

        Well, I’ve written a memoir, but I’m wondering whether I’m better off fictionalising it? And I’d absolutely love your help on it!!!

        1. Robin Rivera

          Do you have my email?
          If not message me on Facebook so I can sent it your way.
          I have some views on memoirs, and I know several writers who wrote them. So I can pass on their experiences to you. Maybe I can help with the project either way. : )

          1. Gulara

            You are a star, Robin! Thank you so much.

  18. thekaty

    Great post! I look forward to seeing more.
    -Katy of http://thekatyblog.com/

    1. Robin Rivera

      Thanks! I’m just making the rounds to other A to Z blogs now, but I can already tell I’m going to love your theme. A is for Anime is a great start. : ) I just went to your blog and I’m working on trying to leave a comment. : ( Have you considered adding Name and URl as an option? I think you would get a lot more conversions going.

      1. thekaty

        Weird about the commenting thing! I’ve been using Disqus as the commenting platform. How would I do the other way?
        Thanks for visiting me either way!

      2. thekaty

        I just checked a box on Disqus that allows “guest to comment.” Maybe it’ll work now? So sorry you’re having trouble.

      3. thekaty

        That’s so weird about the comment. I just checked a box on Disqus that allows “guests to comment.” Maybe that’ll help? I’ll look into other commenting platforms maybe.

      4. thekaty

        FIXED. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. Sorry to bog down your comments with my issues. <3 I look forward to your future posts.

        1. Robin Rivera

          Great! I’ll head back over and try again. : )

  19. gigglingfattie

    Oh wow this is so detailed! What a great way to start the challenge!

    Giggling Fattie from
    No Love For Fatties

    1. Robin Rivera

      Thanks for stopping by. I’m heading to your blog now. : )

  20. jeremyh05251977

    Very Nice Post…

    Welcome in the letter “A”… thank you!
    Jeremy [Retro]
    AtoZ Challenge Co-Host [2016]

    Stop over and find a free “SIX STRINGS: BLOGGING AtoZ CHALLENGE” Here: http://www.jmhdigital.com/

    You know you want to know if me or Hollywood… is Nuts?

    1. Robin Rivera

      Thanks! I’m glad you liked our first post.

  21. jazzfeathers

    Great start to the challenge, Robin 🙂
    You know, these are things I know intuitively, but I enjoyed reading them in a more organised way. Now I’m curious to see where my own story fall into. It isn’t adventure 😉

    The Old Shelter – Jazz Age Jazz

    1. Robin Rivera

      Oh, Sarah! That is a great idea. I wonder if we will hit on the masterplot for your book. I have it on my TBR list, but with preparing for the Challenge and for Camp NaNo, and having my kids off school for almost two weeks! I’ve have no time to catch up on my reading. Heading over to your blog now.

  1. April Wrap-Up: Inspiration, Articles and Fun – Orange Juice Edits

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