Welcome back to Masterplots Theater! When people hear “Rite of Passage plot” they often think it’s another term for “coming-of-age story.” While youthful tales involving loss of innocence and puberty most definitely fit the Rite of Passage mold, not all ROP stories are about teenagers. Allow me to explain…
Rite of Passage Plot Notes:
The defining element of the Rite of Passage masterplot is a life problem. It can be adolescence, mid-life, death of a loved one, addiction, or divorce. See? Puberty isn’t the only awkward, painful stage we humans go through.
The main conflict in this masterplot is internal conflict because the root of the hero’s problem is not a villain or other outside force, though the hero will spend much of the story denying this and blaming the world for their problem.
The hero will inevitably pursue the wrong solution to the problem, which is generally a diversion from confronting it head on, but for those of us who have lived through any of life’s painful stages, we know avoidance is never the answer.
Avoiding pain, recoiling from the hot flame, is natural, even logical — yet only the counterintuitive move of embracing pain will help.
Blake Snyder, Save the Cat!® Goes to the Movies, pg 111.
17 thoughts on “Masterplots Theater: R is for Rite of Passage”
I love the ROP. It’s why I’m always watching those teen comedy movies (…that and they DO some stupid, laughable stunts). Thanks for the breakdown!
I think the most recent movie I watched that had some elements of this was How To Be Single.
I haven’t seen that yet, but I suspect from the trailer that it would be an ROP story. Thanks for the comment, Marna!
Mhm… this sounds a lot like my story’s plot. It may be that this is the my masterplot 🙂
Besides, I really like the rite of Passage masterplot. I like soul-searching stories in general, and I think this is one masterplot that allows a lot of it.
The Old Shelter – Jazz Age Jazz
This is definitely the soul-searching plot! If you ever have a story where the protagonist’s ultimate problem ends up being herself, it’s probably a Rite of Passage masterplot.
Love this series!!
This is a really cool A to Z idea!
I like stories where people learn about themselves. I recommend Flight Behavior by Alice Hoffman for this one, Hoffman being one of my favorite authors, this particular book being outstanding.
Thanks so much for the recommendation! I’ll check it out.
I took a particular interest in Rites of Passage plots while studying at university! In fact, my debut novel, Love Hurts (A Redcliffe Novel) is very much a rite of passage for our heroine Jessica Stone… 😉
Neat! I, however, wrote a lot of ROP stories in my twenties, but scrapped them all. I think I was using them to figure myself out, which isn’t necessarily the best impetus for creating a novel. 😉
…Or, she finally accepts that he is gone and she is now where he once was. That is the reality of her life now. Somehow, she will carry on even though he is gone and there’s a hole the size of Texas, but shaped like South Carolina, in her heart.
This was my life in the late fall of 2012. There was no one to blame but God, if blame is the right word for it, and myself for making a seemingly safe decision several years prior. Sometimes bad decisions come disguised as safe decisions.
Now, if I could just remove myself from the emotion long enough to actually write the story, that would be great!
Sounds like you’ve definitely lived through a Rite of Passage!
Thank you. Quite a few of them, actually, in my 50 years. That one is just the most recent and one of the most painful. Have a blessed day!
Utterly impressed at how much you two know about plots!!!
Thanks, Gulara! Though I have to admit we’ve done a lot of research — we didn’t know this much about masterplots until doing this series. 😉