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Vonnegut's Story Shapes

Are certain familiar narrative arcs inherently appealing?

Although his master's thesis on the topic was rejected by the University of Chicago's anthropology department, it's hard to discount the acuity of Kurt Vonnegut's theory of "story shapes."

This archival video features Vonnegut using a chalkboard and his famous deadpan wit to map out three highly familiar narrative arcs that seem to have lost none of their popularity despite countless iterations:

He addressed story shapes at greater length in his essay collection A Man Without a Country (2005).

The U.S. graphic designer Maya Eilam later adapted his archetypes into a series of handy infographics, which can be viewed at her website.

This post originally appeared at Aeon.

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Comments welcome.



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Posted on December 18, 2017


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