The Escape masterplot is just the way it sounds. The hero is trapped and can’t get free. This masterplot works great for any age reader and in any genre. This story thrives on twists and reversals, making it a perfect fit for structure-friendly writers who like to make their readers gasp and sob. If writing high emotional drama is your thing, keep reading.
Escape Plot Notes:
The Escape masterplot shares elements with the Rescue masterplot, however in the Escape plot the hero is the victim and rescues him or herself. In Rescue the hero is the one saving the victim.
The hero is confined within the setting. If the main character isn’t escaping from a place, then it’s a closed and oppressive environment. The confinement is always real, not just a creation of the character’s mind.
Escapes are character-driven stories. At the start of the hero feels controlled and possibly powerless to change their fate, but as the story evolves so does with the character. A strong character arc is a mainstay of this plot.
The hero can be imprisoned from the start of the story, or a newcomer to the situation who because of new ideas, becomes a catalyst for change. Either way, the hero builds enemies and allies during the escape planning. Characters may try to talk the hero out of escaping often to avoid group punishment, or the hero will find helper characters who may or may not want to accompany them to freedom.
After two or three failed attempts the hero is usually successful, but not without casualties. The Escape often results in bittersweet victory. The element of risk can bring injury or emotional loses. One or more characters might even die so that other characters may escape.
Example to Study:
I’m picking Maze Runner – book or film will do. Here’s why:
· CONFINED SETTING: The Glade, where someone imprisons the hero (Thomas), is fully enclosed. It’s covered by a dome and encircled by a deadly maze. There is one door that leads into the maze. It opens each morning and slams shut every night. The people who enter the maze often don’t come back out.
· CHARACTERS: Some of the characters have grown complacent with life in the glade; however Thomas the newcomer is not. Thomas meets with helper characters who educate him on the glade and maze. He also butts heads with people who don’t want things changed, hopes raised, or more lives lost to the maze.
· ARC: The strong character arc of Thomas is less apparent in the movie, but well-formed in the book. Thomas starts as a shaky outsider, but by the end he is clearly the leader of the pack.
· BITTERSWEET VICTORY: Sorry for the spoiler, but not everyone will escape the glade or the maze alive. Nor will this first escape signal the end of Thomas’ ordeal.
The escape masterplot is one of literature’s first plots; it’s at the core of many fairy tales like HANSEL AND GRETEL. You could also watch CUBE, at little known gem of an escape film, or THE GREAT ESCAPE. Book selections include THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO a book that teams a fabulous escape masterplot in the first half and a revenge masterplot for the second half. Or THE WIZARD OF OZ. Technically Dorothy’s ordeal is all in her mind, but we don’t learn that until the end, and the rest of the story fits.
Thank you for joining us today! We hope you enjoyed E is for Escape and invite you back tomorrow for our next installment of Masterplots Theater: Fis for the Fool Triumphant .
Please share your favorite Escape titles in the comments.
Robin trained as a professional historian and worked as a museum curator, educator, and historical consultant. She writes mystery fiction, with diverse characters and a touch of snark. She's currently working on two new manuscripts that started off as NaNoWriMo projects. You can follow her on Facebook(https://www.facebook.com/robin.rivera.90813). However, Pinterest (https://www.pinterest.com/RRWrites/) is where her inner magpie is happiest of all.
View all posts by Robin Rivera