Lester Dent Master Plot
Updated: Dec 20, 2021
Some people say there are only three basic plots in fiction (man vs. man; man vs. nature; man vs. himself - change pronouns and gender, if you want). Or is it five basic plots? Maybe seven basic plots? How about fifty? Perhaps 101 basic plots? There are books and articles that claim all these numbers.
Some writers are helped with a detailed plot structure, and some books even specialize in particular genres, such as mysteries, romances, and even "best sellers"!
Some books are too detailed, in my opinion, insisting that by page 87 this sort of incident must occur and on page 153 this kind of fight must happen. Way too mechanical for my taste, but some might find it useful.
My particular favorite plot structure is the Lester Dent Masterplot. Having a plot structure was one less thing to worry about on my first novel, so I used a modified version of this Masterplot to write Death in Little Tokyo.
Lester Dent was a King during the golden age of pulp fiction. He Invented "Doc Savage" and literally had hundreds of stories published. He claimed all these stories were basically the same plot! An editor didn't believe him so he wrote the famous Masterplot article as a response. It's still good advice if you need a rigid structure for plot. If you want a book instead of a story, just multiply the size of each section by ten, to go from a 6,000 word story into a 60,000 word novel.
If you Google "Lester Dent Masterplot" you'll find several articles, worksheets, and descriptions of this interesting writing formula.
Links to original Lester Dent Master Plot article:
The life of Lester Dent: