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Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations MP3 CD – Unabridged, September 30, 2005


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Product Details

  • MP3 CD: 100 pages
  • Publisher: bnpublishing.com (September 30, 2005)
  • ISBN-10: 9561000040
  • ISBN-13: 978-9561000049
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English, French (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

I don't quite understand how Polti came to classify the plots in this book the way he did.
Gary D. Townsend
He also refers to novels and stories which may be difficult to find but the point is that somebody has used the dramatic situation in question and there may be others.
Fulan
This text comes highly recommended as a classic by far too many creative writing and screenwriting teachers.
Mark McElroy

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

69 of 73 people found the following review helpful By Mark McElroy on February 15, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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.
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75 of 80 people found the following review helpful By Mark Wieczorek on December 18, 2003
Format: Paperback
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.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Alex on January 2, 2000
Format: Paperback
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.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Leslie Shortlidge on May 20, 2002
Format: Paperback
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.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Alex Lint on June 17, 2006
Format: Paperback
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.
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