Kurt Vonnegut, author of Slaughterhouse-Five, said in his autobiography that his "prettiest contribution to culture" was his rejected master's thesis on the shapes of stories.
Maybe it's because I've always struggled a bit with plotting (or maybe it's because Vonnegut's dry wit is so on point), but "On The Shapes of Stories" seems spot on to me. You can watch it here:
Don't you love that? Since I'm currently knee-deep in writing a trilogy, I thought it would be fun to draw the shapes of the three stories I'm working on:
I like that the shapes of the first and third books almost mirror each other. Other than the fact that the third book starts at a more positive point than the first, both plots have roughly the same shape. The second book, as I was hoping it would, has a distinctly different shape from the other two. One of the hard parts about planning this series has been ensuring that the overall story arc for the trilogy has a nice flow to it. After this little exercise, I feel like I'm on the right track!
What do you think of Vonnegut's theory? Have you ever drawn out the "shape" of a story you're working on?