Christopher Booker’s “Rags to Riches” archetype is one of the seven basic plots he identified in his book “The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories.” This archetype typically involves a protagonist starting in a lowly state and experiencing a rise in fortune or personal development. Here is a fun exercise to play with writing a “Rags to Riches” story:

Reverse Rags to Riches:

  • Flip the traditional “Rags to Riches” archetype by starting with a character who begins in a privileged or advantageous position.
  • Introduce unexpected obstacles, setbacks, or personal flaws that lead the character into a downward spiral.
  • Develop the character’s response to adversity and the lessons they learn along the way.
  • Conclude the story with the character either finding a new form of richness or personal growth despite the challenges, or experiencing a complete reversal of fortune.

If you don’t have the time to come up with a whole new story, you can pick a book or a movie that falls into this archetype and use the existing characters and storyline. Imagine Julia Roberts’ character in Pretty Woman being the respected wife of a rich, handsome and kind businessman and ending up on the streets as a prostitute in the last.

It is of course always okay to not write or not finish the whole story. Use the exercise to start your fantasy and once you get going see where your mind takes you. Pick whatever scene you imagine first and start writing it. You can always add structure later.

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