Straight talk from the sisters about blood, sweat and ink
Masterplots Theater: O is for Out of the Bottle
Welcome back to Masterplots Theater. Do you dream of writing stories with flying carpets, or wishing wells? Or maybe you want to write a story where the bad guy gets taken down by a witch with a sense of humor. Great, because this masterplot takes us to a land of all plots magical.
Out Of The Bottle Plot Notes:
This is a tricky masterplot to work with because it hinges on an inciting incident (aka story catalyst) that involves magic, mostly wishes and curses. The release of something magical into the world can lead to a good or bad experience depending on the circumstances. This plot works equality well for comedy as it does for drama.
The stakes are almost always small and personal, and the stories are character driven. The cast of main characters is frequently on the smaller side. The protagonist will typically share the secret with only one other character.
The protagonist always receives something that changes their life. It’s usually something unexpected, but that they secretly desire. The remainder of the story is about the joys and complications created by their out of the bottle encounter. This masterplot often teaches valuable life lessons.
There are many types of Out of the Bottle story catalysts; finding a wish-granting magic lamp is just one of them. Many of them are much more subtle, or sent by a unseen power.
As in the cases of many wish fulfillment stories, the wish frequently goes wrong and the story evolves into a “be careful what you wish for” for message. However, there are many happily ever after endings too.
Examples to Study:
Because wishes and curses come in many forms, I’m changing the format a bit and giving you some groups of stories and moves that fit the main types of Out Of The Bottle plot devices.
BODY SWAPPING: Characters learn a valuable life lesson by walking in another person’s shoes. This is not the same as the Metamorphosis Masterplot; this character remains human, just many decades older or younger then before the magical encounter. It can also include the Freaky Friday style body swap. Examples are BIG, 17 AGAIN and FREAKY FRIDAY.
MAGIC ITEMS: This one includes encountering something with no clear motive or origin that creates magic without wishes. This item usually has only one magical operation. Examples are: THE INDIAN IN THE CUPBOARD or movies like THE MASK and TOMORROW LAND.
DIVINE INTERVENTION: They may or may not ask for it, they may not want it, but it arrives anyway. And it’s just what they needed to make their life better. Examples are films MEET JOE BLACK and NANNY McPHEE.
CURSES: When the protagonist has a nasty character flaw, magic steps in. There must be some good in this character’s core for us to root for them to survive the curse. Examples are movies: SHALLOW HAL and GROUNDHOG DAY.
Since the Out Of The Bottle masterplot comes from Aladdin lore, reading one of the many versions of that tale would be a great place to start. There is also MARY POPPINS, FIVE CHILDREN AND IT, or read one of the many body swapping stories listed at Goodreads.
Thank you for joining us today. Other episodes in this series include:
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.
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