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Plotto: a book listing every possible plot


There is an interesting blog post from Brain Pickings which alerts me to a book from 1928 called Plotto by dime novelist William Wallace Cook, who attempted to list all possible book narratives and came up with 1,462.

The book is back in the blogosphere because it has just been republished by Tin House, who should be praised for bringing this book back from the grave.

Writes Michelle Legro at Brain Pickings:

Plotto (is) still exceedingly hard to understand. It’s a narrative Dewey Decimal System of sorts, where each character-type is given a letter: the man is A, the woman is B, their relatives, such as a father or mother, would be F-A or M-B, and anything mysterious, be it a stranger or a strange object, is given the designation X, that ultimate letter of mystery. Conflicts have their own groupings, such as Love and Courtship, Married Life, Mystery, Misfortune, Idealism, Personal Limitations, Revelation, Helpfulness, Craftiness Stimulation, Mistaken Judgement, and Deliverance.

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Richard Davies

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