Christopher Booker’s book The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories outlines seven plots. One of these seven is Overcoming the Monster. In this plot, the main character sets out to defeat the evil bad guy. This antagonist usually harms others that get in his way. This selfish character sometimes causes a threat to the hero’s homeland. The selfless hero rescues others such as a princess or destroys a terrifying beast.
This video would make a great introduction to the lesson. The creator of the video has set a restriction for viewing on Youtube only. After clicking play, you will receive a message and a link. Just follow the link to Youtube. The film is quite good. It contains many examples of ‘Overcoming the Monster’ from pop culture. Video clips from movies such as Star Wars are included.
The monster can appear in many forms:
- evil humans – Boogies, Bunce, and Bean from Fantastic Mr. Fox, Miss Trunchbull from Matilda
- mythological creature – Cyclops, Kronos from The Lightning Thief
- folklore – vampires, witches, werewolves
- religious monsters – demons
- aliens – Predators, Megamind
- wild creatures – bears, sharks
The “monster” may even be a problem that the main character has to overcome. The battle becomes an internal struggle. An example of this is The Goldfish Boy. Matthew suffers from severe obsessive-compulsive disorder. He refuses to go to school. Matthew doesn’t even leave the house. Matthew struggles with overcoming his OCD to help find a lost toddler. He battles this internal monster and wins.
- James Bond
- Jack and the Beanstalk
- The Dark is Rising
- King Kong
- The Three Billy Goats Gruff
- Star Wars
- David and Goliath
- The Witches
- A Series of Unfortunate Events
Students create a staggered flip organizer that explains Booker’s plot “Overcoming the Monster.” The organizer also contains a page for students to list examples from literature or pop culture. Next students answer a ‘Digging Deeper’ question. For this lesson, the question asks students to compare Booker’s Plot Structure to the Roller Coaster Plot Diagram. Finally, three outline pages provide practice.