John Truby’s expertise is in film, but I’m going to use his diagrams and principles to gain a better understanding of children’s stories instead. The following are screen caps from his excellent book The Anatomy of Story. Nodelman, Reimer and Nikolajeva are experts in children’s literature. I’m going to consider Nikolajeva’s book From Linear To Mythic: Time in children’s literature alongside The Pleasures of Children’s Literature by Nodelman and Reimer to come up with my own sort-of taxonomy of plot children’s stories.
THE LINEAR STORY
As in film, the majority of children’s stories are basically linear. However, the plot doesn’t necessarily begin where the story begins. Home-away-home adventures stories are generally linear.
Dennis Butts, among others, has pointed out that in their use of formulaic elements and stereotyped characters, adventure stories owe a good deal to the structure of traditional folk- and fairy tales in which similar patterns tend to repeat themselves. Butts refers to the ideas of both Propp and Campbell as possible instruments to examine the structure of adventure stories, and to those of Bettelheim to show the appeal of these stories. He also discusses Treasure Island in terms of folktale.
— Maria Nikolajeva, From Mythic to Linear
- Tom Sawyer (‘master text’ for adventure story as the Narnia Chronicles are for fantasy)
- The Epic Of Gilgamesh (the oldest known adventure story — 3rd millennium BC)
- The Odyssey (by Homer, about 3000 years old)
- The legend of Saint George and the dragon
- The Greek tale of Perseus
- Robinson Crusoe
- King Solomon’s Mines (1885)
- Jack and the Beanstalk
- Treasure Island
- Kim, Rudyard Kipling (1901)
- Peter Pan
- Sherlock Holmes
- The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings
- Doctor Who
- Star Wars
- James Bond
- Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
- Starwars, 1977 (a parody of the hero adventure story)