Are all detective stories 'rags to riches'?

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DavidL

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Been watching Brandon Sanderson's excellent and inspiring lectures (eg at ) on how to write. I have found a lot of how-to-write advice seems to be designed to suck all the fun out of writing, but Mr S does not.
Following up his advice on analyzing stories according to 3 basic plot structures - 1. Hero's Journey, 2. Rags to Riches (ie. setting injustice to rights) and 3. Sports Team+Outsider - has been illuminating. I re-read the Sherlock Holmes shorts, and was intrigued to find that they are all Plot #2. Then I read a Chandler short, and that was too. I shall keep reading and find out if all detective fiction is in that category!
 
Nice of him to boil the number of plots down to three. There are usually at least 7. I don't thing 'rags to riches' is a good descriptor for detective stories no matter how you bend the words. Rags to riches has its own meaning doesn't it? Righting an injustice is certainly or can certainly be part of it but not always. Which is to say, being poor and becoming wealthy isn't always about correcting an injustice. Shame on him for appropriating the phrase and sapping it of its meaning.
 
Nice of him to boil the number of plots down to three. There are usually at least 7. I don't thing 'rags to riches' is a good descriptor for detective stories no matter how you bend the words. Rags to riches has its own meaning doesn't it? Righting an injustice is certainly or can certainly be part of it but not always. Which is to say, being poor and becoming wealthy isn't always about correcting an injustice. Shame on him for appropriating the phrase and sapping it of its meaning.
I didn't get the impression he was being that rigid about it. I imagine from what he said that he'd be happy to use 7 plots or even a lot more, like some schemes I've seen. I am not too invested in the labels I picked, happy to let them go. I learned something and it was fun.
 
Rags to riches doesn't have to mean in a literal money sense. And righting an injustice is only part of a great detective story. The quest is something beyond.
 
We-e-e-elllll.

Plots. I think in the 7 Basic Plots it was mentioned that Oedipus was a mystery and detective story - but it also a tragedy. I think the answer to most mysteries is the unravelling of one of the plots - or perhaps revealing one of the seven deadly sins?

After all, Lust & Greed are usually there somewhere. Pride. Wrath, Envy.

Maybe Sloth would make an interesting motive?

(Don't forget Acedia & Vainglory, which are basically reckless neglect and being a lying blowhard - maybe they'd be good reasons to kill someone)
 
Another interesting thing is the role of the archetypical characters. Gandalf. Aragorn. Sam. Is Sherlock Holmes a super-hero? For that matter - what is the Hulk? He's more like Jekyll & Hyde.

Let's look at his 3 plots

Rags to Riches​
Outsider joins a team.​
Quest - Hero's Journey.​

hmmm you can make each of those a Tragedy by having the protagonist reject his or her "destiny". Waste their gifts, reject love, go into the wilderness and fast but never get reborn. Brooker has "Slaying A Monster" & "miraculous escape From death" too. Surely they are staples of the detective story. Catch the ever more sick & depraved serial killer. Get out of the clutches of the madman.

Is a love story a separate story or does it actually need the framework of another plot to make it work? Something to hook the "misunderstanding" on?
 
Sloth could be amusing. You want to kill someone for doing something that makes your life really difficult...but you can't be bothered.

I think more like your spouse is nagging you to get up and make something of your life when all you want to do is watch Netflix box sets. In the end it's a choice - murder or get lively.

Easy.
 
Thanks for sharing, it's a good lecture. I find his approach a bit formulaic, but it's a useful reminder of ensuring that there's relatable beats in your story.
 
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