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Infographic Of The Day: Kurt Vonnegut Maps Out The Shape Of Stories [Video]

How many different types of stories are there? According to Vonnegut, just three.

Infographic Of The Day: Kurt Vonnegut Maps Out The Shape Of Stories [Video]
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From the moment we exit the womb, we tend to hear the same basic stories over and over again. For instance, one wouldn’t normally draw comparisons between Jane Eyre and Avatar, but the two actually share the same trope. You know the one: “boy gets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back.” Most literary folk agree that there are common plots on which all literature is built, though they quibble over the exact number. In this video relic, the late Kurt Vonnegut boils them down to three, which he charts on just two axes. What you get is an old-school infographic of the shapes stories take.

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So what are the three plots? We won’t ruin it for you; let Vonnegut guide you through them, using nothing more than chalk, a blackboard, and his famous wit.

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About the author

A former editor at such publications as WIRED, Bloomberg Businessweek, and Fast Company, Belinda Lanks has also written for The New York Times Magazine, The New York Observer, Interior Design, and ARTnews.

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