Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

76 of 81 people found the following review helpful
on December 18, 2003
Legend has it that Georges Polti heard that there were 36 possible plots, and set about creating a list of plots to match the 36. He claims that this number isn't special, and there may be other classifications a bit higher, or a bit lower. He also says that these correspond to the 36 basic emotions people have, which I honestly don't see.
Some of the dramatic situations seem to be stretched a bit thin where several of them have similar parts but in sleightly different context.For example: Twentieth Situation: Self-Sacrifice for an Ideal, Twenty First Situation: Self-Sacrifice for Kindred.
If someone proposed that there are only 36 plots (someone who the author holds in high recard) I would be tempted to say that with such a number as 36 - divisible by 1, 2, 3, 4 and all higher multiples thereof, that really what he meant was variations on a handful of plots. For example the 3 basic plots of Person v. Person, Person v. Nature (God), Person v. Herself. If I could think of 3 permutations on each of those, and 4 variations of each, then I too would have 36 plots.
Here it seems that Polti just started listing plots until he got to 36. I do recommend this book, along with Games People Play by Eric Berne (which falls under the psychology/self help section) as a good resource for when you're stuck for an idea. Eric Berne was a psychologist, concerned with figuring out what the basic transactions between people are (games) and what are reasons are for playing them. The difference here is that Eric Berne acknowledges that his list is a work in progress, and more games will be recognized as time goes on.
As far as more classical plotting, Aristotle's Poetics, The Art of Dramatic Writing by Lajos Egri (see my review), and The Hero With A Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell are great resources. I'd also add The Hero by Lord Raglan (available in In Quest of the Hero by Otto Rank). These books make up the canonical library every writer should have.
Aristotle laid down the fundamentals of drama over 2,000 years ago, and they are followed to this day. Probably his closest modern rival is Lajos Egri, and you'll see that many of the writing software packages out there are either Aristotle, Egri, or Campbell based.
Another reviewer mentioned Star Wars. George Lucas was highly influenced by Joseph Campbell, and the famed Bill Moyers interviews were conducted on Skywalker Ranch. I think analyzing Star Wars from the point of view of The 36 Dramatic Situations is like analyzing soup from the point of view of it's ingredients: "I noticed Celery, and Potatoes, and..." without getting a feel for the arc of the story, or that the soup is a Stew. Star Wars is a myth, and follows the basic mythic structure.
Lord Raglan identifies 22 common traits of heros, such as: His father is a king, he is raised by foster parents, we're told nothing of his childhood, etc. Everyone from Oedipus to Moses to King Arthur to Jesus to Luke Skywalker to Robin Hood to Neo follow this scale to one degree or another, and he gives examples of each.
I'd also encourage the curious to learn more about the Hollywood formula, 7 point plots, and the all important turnaround.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
77 of 83 people found the following review helpful
on February 15, 2007
This text comes highly recommended as a classic by far too many creative writing and screenwriting teachers.

Want to know if this book is for you? Read this passage:

"In the second, by means of a contraction analogous to that which abbreviates a syllogism to an enthymeme, this undecided power is but an attribute of the persecutor himself."

The entire book reads this way, so if that works for ya, you'll love this book. If it doesn't, you'll need to look elsewhere.
77 commentsWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on January 2, 2000
George Polti's book tells you about the inner workings of the thirty-six dramatic situations he claims to have found. According to him, the possible plots can be reduced to one of these situations or to a variation on them. Additionally, he offers specific sub-types to each one of the plots, so that it is easier to precise which elements will make a distinct kind of plot. At the end of the book, you will also find useful information on how every element of a plot can vary. The classical avenger archetypical figure, for example, can be split into several characters for a different effect; the object of a passion can be a man or a woman, but it can be an addiction too! A book that would-be writers should not miss, "The Thirty-six Dramatic Situations" will make a good reading even for those only interested in getting a better grasp of the plot of, say, a movie they have seen. It is, simply, a work of art.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on June 17, 2006
This book is famous mostly among people who have only heard of it. People who have actually read it are less gushy with their praise.

Most folks think of this as a book of all the different plots and their variations. But personally, I prefer to look at the title itself, which speaks not of "plots" but of "dramatic situations".

Picture a story as if it were a play. When the curtain rises, the actors are all on stage and frozen in a tableau that displays their roles and inter-relationships. It is Polti's contention that these tableaus, or "dramatic situations", amount to no more than 36 in number.

How does this differ from 36 plots? Well, there may be only a limited number of relationships among the characters when the curtain first rises, but there are a zillion different ways in which those relationships can play themselves out. In Polti's sub-headings he goes through a wide range of different variations.

So if you're looking for a one-size-fits-all set of plotlines so that you can write your blockbuster, forget it. If you want a densely written analysis of the 36 Dramatic Situations, this is your book. The book will help writers think about their craft, but it's still not as simple as people make it sound when they describe the book over a beer.

One problem that I ran into was Polti's era and nationality. He was a Frenchman writing almost a hundred years ago. As a result, his voluminous notations describing a plethora of literary examples was mainly lost on me. Unless you're an expert on 19th Century French theatre, you may find yourself in the same boat.

My bottom line: this is a good book. I'm glad I've got it and I occasionaslly pull it off the shelf and re-read sections. But is it a masterpiece, the Holy Grail of plot-writers? No.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on May 19, 2002
The elevated language of this nearly 100-year-old reference book makes the writing disconcerting to read at first, but as you leaf through situations ("Supplication," "Enmity of Kinsmen," "Vengance Taken for Kindred Upon Kindred"), you'll find yourself thinking of modern examples. An example: how many of these named plot devices are in the first "Star Wars" film? Well, for starters, there's Pursuit, Deliverance, Disaster, Revolt, Daring Enterprise, The Enigma ("Use the Force, Luke!" -- "Luke, I am your father!") and probably a few more that I didn't see. So if you're stumped for plots and conflict, this book will give you a good kick-start.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on July 16, 2013
This is the most abysmally formatted Kindle book I've ever purchased. Rampant uncorrected OCR errors and incorrect paragraph breaks render it unreadable. Whoever is responsible ought to be ashamed.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on January 16, 2012
If you buy this book you'll only get 80% of it.

The book is scanned and scanned poorly. Ends and beginnings of pages are rudely cut off. Just don't get it.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on July 29, 2011
The Good: Polti's book from 1921 is a classic and belongs in every writer's library.
The Bad: The translation from French is in this edition is clunky, and many of the references are going to be alien to a modern American audience.
The Ugly: This particular Kindle version suffers from the transfer process. This must have been done with text recognition software, because even a casual glance reveals that it is rife with garbled text. I sure wish that a human could have proof read the manuscript before posting it for sale.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on July 25, 2013
Do not buy the Kindle edition of this book. It is so full of errors that you cannot read it. Someone obviously scanned it with text recognition software and did not even glance at the result before publishing it, because just about every sentence contains non-words, B's substituted for S's, line breaks that make no sense, and random punctuation. I found this out after the seven day return period, unfortunately. Don't buy this.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on June 22, 2013
The person who created this electronic version of "THE THIRTY-SIX Dramatic Situations", made a very poor job of it.

There are lots of spelling mistakes, probably the result of Optical Character Recognition software errors that have gone uncorrected, and they didn't bother to create a "CONTENTS", which for a reference-type book, is an essential addition.

Not worth 99 cents!
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
     
 
Customers who viewed this also viewed
20 Master Plots: And How to Build Them
20 Master Plots: And How to Build Them by Ronald B Tobias (Paperback - January 12, 2012)
$11.72


 
     

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.