The 7 Basic Universal Plots

All sorts of lists exist that talk about the number of universal plots. One list had 36, which seemed awfully high for universal plots. Seven seems to be a popular number for universal plot lists, so I developed my own list of 7 universal plots.

  1. Individual Walks Dog: Individual walks his dog or someone else’s dog.
  2. Individual vs Carrot Top: Individual tries to do something. Carrot Top succeeds or fails in preventing Individual from doing it.
  3. Carrot Top vs Individual: Carrot Top tries to do something. Individual succeeds or fails in preventing Carrot Top form doing it.
  4. Individual versus Death: Individual is in danger. Individual dies or doesn’t die.
  5. Individual versus the Hive Mind Collective: Individual struggles against conformity and with a mindless zealousness to maintain his individuality at all costs, screwing everyone else in the process.
  6. Individual versus Myth: Individual struggles to be somebody. Man succumbs to suburban life or becomes an action hero.
  7. Individual versus the Unknown: Individual makes a grand discovery. Or not.

Twitter Fiction Festival 2012 - @unpublishedguy

@unpublishedguy #twitterfiction

season one

S1E1 Cdr Salamander leads the Apathy on its gazillionth voyage, to find a planetary station where they can gas up the ship. #twitterfiction

S1E2 Yog Soggoth, Jr, an Old One as ancient as time, forgets where he parked, and the Apathy won’t let him hitch a ride. #twitterfiction

S1E3 Cerebral helmsman Old Spice & wildly emotional engineer Yo switch bodies, because the writers have already given up #twitterfiction

S1E4 In this week’s show the crew finds itself in an alternate universe where each cast member can actually act. #twitterfiction

 S1E5 Running ever lower on fuel, Cdr Salamander inexplicably diverts the ship to the unexplored Thumb Quadrant #twitterfiction

S1E6 Engineer Yo enhances the ship’s fuel efficiency by shrinking it so it can fit through tiny wormholes. #twitterfiction

 S1E7 An angry, rebuffed Yog Soggoth, Jr leaves a burning bag of poo in the Apathy’s transporter room #twitterfiction

S1E8 Dr. Crack discovers evidence that she may not be human when her holographic projector gets all jittery #twitterfiction

 S1E9 A day in the life of Tactical Officer XX, a levitating, human-sized strand of rNA.#twitterfiction

 S1E10 Cmdr Salamander, XX, and Yo get stuck on the holodeck during its routine malfunction#twitterfiction

S1E11 While investigating the murder of a crew member no one cares about, Tactical Officer XX awkwardly flirts with Yo #twitterfiction

S1E12 The crew is nearly being stomped to death by the Crural, an alien race with formidable thighs #twitterfiction

 S1E13 After a nasty cold, Salamander dies, meets Yog Soggoth, Jr in the 11th dimension, & gets lectured on supersymmetry #twitterfiction

S1E14 Dr. Crack bombards Salamander with particles that don’t exist but brings the Cmdr back to life anyway. #twitterfiction

season two

S2E1 Yog Soggoth, Jr once again bothers the Apathy, claiming that a crew member we’ve never seen before is his cousin. #twitterfiction

S2E2 The Apathy is threatened when a holodeck character hijacks the ship & demands they chart a course for Cuba.#twitterfiction

S2E3 Dr Crack saves the life of a potato-based alien by sticking giant toothpicks in its sides & suspending it in water #twitterfiction

S2E4 Tactical Officer XX and Engineer Yo investigate a space-time anomaly and fall in love in the process #twitterfiction

S2E5 Old Spice wishes he were a robot and seeks advice from Cmdr Salamander who counsels him on burying his emotions#twitterfiction

S2E6 Aliens attempt to spy on Apathy but are caught by the crew, due to the alien’s misunderstanding of what human eyes do.#twitterfiction

S2E7 Tactical Officer XX and Engineer Yo investigate a gaseous anomaly and have a lover’s quarrel in the process #twitterfiction

S2E8 In an effort to become the most robotic human, Old Spice matches wits with a smart phone and loses.#twitterfiction

S2E9 Tactical Officer XX and Engineer Yo investigate a spatial anomaly and have sex in the process #twitterfiction

 S2E10 Old Spice again seeks advice from Cmdr Salamander when he decides to build a chicken coop.#twitterfiction

S2E11 Officer XX becomes trapped in the mind of Engineer Yo who is trapped in the body of a squid.#twitterfiction

S2E12 By drowning puppies and slandering apple pie, Old Spice jeopardizes a chance to gas up the ship.#twitterfiction

S2E13 Commander Salamander has sex with a hologram, somehow.#twitterfiction

S2E14 The crew locates some fuel, but it’s contaminated by parasites that causes crankiness and bloating .#twitterfiction

season 3

Dr. Crack completes an unrealistic holodeck simulation of a starship that transports families into dangerous situations.#twitterfiction

S3E2 The crew encounters a sub-space anomaly that transforms their uniforms from unitards to polka-dotted kilts.#twitterfiction

S3E3 Tactical Officer XX’s parents, X and Y visit, and she learns a hard lesson about interspecies relationships.#twitterfiction

S3E4 The crew go back in time, discover their grandfathers and murder them to demonstrate that the fluffy propery of time #twitterfiction

 S3E5 Old Spice exchanges pleasentries with Engineer Yo and learns a shocking secret about starship etiquette #twitterfiction

S3E6 Yog Soggoth, Jr returns to the Apathy and imbues Cmdr Salamander with the power of copious pontification #twitterfiction

S3E7 In his latest attempt to misunderstand Humanity, Old Spice adopts the practice of radical honesty #twitterfiction

S3E8 Yog Soggoth, Jr transports Old Spice, XX, and Yo into a representation of Remembrance of Things Past.#twitterfiction

S3E9 Dr Crack realizes she is a man trapped in a female hologram. She undergoes a holographic projector extension. #twitterfiction

 S3E10 The crew barely escapes destruction when they find an abandoned fueling station inhabited by clones of Donald Trump#twitterfiction

S3E11 After a computer malfunction, XX, Yo, and Old Spice are trapped in a pornographic holodeck program #twitterfiction

S3E12 Dr. Crack gets deleted under mysterious circumstances. An investigation implicates John McAfee. #twitterfiction

S3E13 Apathy answers a distress call, and the crew is duped into exchanging its cow for magic beans #twitterfiction

S3E14 Yog Soggoth, Jr. returns, yet again, to gain control of the Apathy in his quest to produce another filler episode #twitterfiction

season 4

S4E1 The show jumps the shark when the crew adopts a Neanderthal named Crunge as their pet..#twitterfiction

S4E2 Robot-Alien-Neanderthal-Hologram love quadrilateral.#twitterfiction

S4E3 Old Spice records a day on the Apathy, observing Tactical Officer XX self-replicate & the mystery of missing underwear #twitterfiction

S4E4 The Apathy passes through a nebula resulting in an uneventful trip where uninteresting things happened.#twitterfiction

 S4E5 The crew enters time loop & repeatedly blows up the ship in a much less funny version of Ground Hog day.#twitterfiction

S4E6 Tactical Officer XX consults a holographic Olympic curler about her 4-way relationship with Yo, Old Spice, and Crunge.#twitterfiction

S4E7 Anthropologist XY hitches a ride to the Thumb Quadrant, just as Yog Soggoth, Jr. remembers where he parked #twitterfiction

S4E8 Tactical Officer XX has an affair, swapping nucleic acids with visiting anthropologist XY.#twitterfiction

 S4E9 Yog Soggoth, Jr gets thrown out of the Old Ones club and can no longer make people suits#twitterfiction

S4E10 A transporter accident replaces the crew of the Apathy with the physical forms of the TV show’s writing staff #twitterfiction

S4E11 Holodeck Nazis? Why the Hell not.#twitterfiction

S4E12 Crunge makes the crew rather uncomfortable as he performs, “[unpronouncable]” the Neanderthal rite of adulthood, naked #twitterfiction

S4E13 The crew has to fight holographic gymnasts that escape the holodeck. Cmdr Salamander loses points on the vault.#twitterfiction

S4E14 The whole TV series is the fantasy of a committed lunatic. Or is it? No, as it turns out, it isn’t #twitterfiction

season five

S5E1 The crew is infected by a disease that turns them into children and wacky cuteness ensues.#twitterfiction

S5E2 The self-centered, self-absorbed crew of the Apathy learn a lesson in cooperation that is forgotten by the next episode #twitterfiction

S5E3 Yog Sogoth, Jr. struggles with its weird new feelings as it feels an attraction to Cmdr Salamander .#twitterfiction

S5E4 Another Old One appears & hops aboard the Apathy. Yog Soggoth, Jr intervenes by devouring the other in a single bite #twitterfiction

S5E5 Crunge is attracted to Old Spice’s body odor #twitterfiction

S5E6 Crunge invites the crew for a breakfast of jellied testicles. Engineer Yo searches for something that’s missing #twitterfiction

S5E7 An alien race of rats conducts “research” on Old Spice and Crunge. Mazes, cheese, and chemical injections. O My. #twitterfiction

S5E8 Crunge gets an insect bite that swells to the size of basketball and ruptures, showering the crew with sentient pus #twitterfiction

S5E9 Several crew members disappear in Engineer Yo’s pornographic holodeck program and are never seen again #twitterfiction

S5E10 Crunge discovers fire and burns down C-deck. Cmdr Salamander regrets not buying starship insurance #twitterfiction

S5E11 After touching a dark monolith, Crunge gains the ability to speak the Queen’s English & play Jethro Tull on the flute #twitterfiction

S5E12 Gullible transdimensional bit-based lifeforms mistake this Twitter stream for reality & begin to worship Yog Jr #twitterfiction

S5E13-1 Running low on fuel & food, the crew fights a Colour Out of Space that hides behind a shield of plaid camouflage #twitterfiction

S5E13-2 Facing starvation, the crew eats Crunge, providing enough protein to defeat the Plaid Colour Out of Space.#twitterfiction

S5E14-1 Old Spice has his 1st emotionless thought while fighting a horde of hyperdimension beings unleashed by Yog Jr. #twitterfiction

S5E14-2 With a fueling station finally in reach Salamander must choose Gas or stop the spawn of Yog from destroying humanity#twitterfiction

Postscript: Restored after 512 years, Dr Crack finds himself on the Apathy, a derelict floating in space, running on empty #twitterfiction

William Faulkner, New Millenium Pitchman

Sound and Fury Energy Drink

I give you the beverage of all hope and desire. I give it to you not only that you may get a strong energy boost, but that you might get maximum hydration and an extra kick of B-vitamins, caffeine, electrolytes, and SOUND AND FURY’s potent rye blend. Because no drink has ever been so smooth, powerful and easy to drink. Other drinks only reveal to man his own folly and beverage despair, from which quenched thirst and transcending sleep is an illusion of scholars and imbeciles.

After I drink SOUND AND FURY energy drink, I am neither asleep nor awake looking down the long track of an active and exhausting lifestyle where all still things become infused with an incredible energy boost all I do bigger, better all I feel faster, stronger, enhanced by the potent blend of Guarana, Ginkgo, Ginseng and Alcohol and perverse chilling without relevance inherent in employment with the fully refreshing, lightly carbonated beverage super chilled it affirms thinking I go here I go there where I was not not where I was.

A Rose for Emily Plugin Scented Oil

What was left of the grinning corpse, rotted and swaddled in what remained of his nightshirt, was intractably reposed in the bed in which he lay; but thanks to A ROSE FOR EMILY plugin scented oil, we did not smell it one bit.

Light in August Commemorative Jesus Coin

Memory believes before knowing remembers. Believes longer than recollects, longer than knowing even wonders. Now you can remember the big round Golgotha cold echoing by purchasing a LIGHT IN AUGUST commemorative Jesus coin. On one side, a 3D Jesus set in a lusterless zinc alloy compound, and on the converse side, the Holy Ghost, transparent to the straining eye. The coin, enclosed in glittering Wanjun factory gold plating, being either a God or a Man, who in random erratic flips, with gymnastlike balance beam tumbles, tossing end-over-end in identical and uniform silk gold in and out of remembering. And now you can remember Jesus and know his dual divinity with this handsome commemorative Jesus coin.

Absalom, Absalom! Smelling Salts

Because there is something in the smell of ammonia with carbonate which nullifies, slices straight across the devious nasal passages of decorous odor, which left nostrils know as well as right nostrils know because it takes them both to smell and smell of that which is the castle of consciousness: the liquored and ungirdled mind is anything’s to awake from any darkened hallway of this earthly tenement. Let ammonia smell with carbonate, and watch the flutter of the window shade eyelids.

ABSALOM, ABSALOM! SMELLING SALTS for concussion and fainting too.

As I Lay Dying Memory Foam Mattress

In a strange room you must empty yourself for sleep. And before you are emptied for sleep, how comfortable are you? And when you are emptied for sleep, how comfortable are you? And when you are emptied for sleep you are not. And when you are filled with sleep, you never were. You don’t know how comfortable you are. You don’t know how comfortable you can be.

I know he am, because whether I do not know that he do not know or where I am or not, because I sleep on the AS I LAY DYING memory foam mattress. I can empty myself for sleep because the memory foam mattress ensures that I am comfortable and ensures that I am not uncomfortable. And then I must be, or I could not empty myself for sleep in a strange room. And so if I am not emptied yet, I will be.

Literary Fiction and Popular Fiction, Psychoanalyzed

Literary fiction is a solipsistic mental patient, gazing at itself in a mirror. Very little is happening, except the internal churning of its little grey cells. Literary fiction demands center stage, simultaneously fascinating and repulsing the reader as its flesh is peeled away like layers of onion skin, revealing the bare bones of angst-ridden minimalism. It resides in the self-contained world where it presides over itself. It uses the spare, forceful language of an OCD scrabble champion, invoking triple word score metaphors.

In therapy literary fiction contends with its world weary ennui, cynicism, and laconic empathy. It needs to work on social skills and developing sustainable relationships based on respect. Less dark sarcasm and condescending attitude. More happy faces and smiles.

Popular fiction is the good-natured codependent man child that aims to please everyone. Always on the go go while scarfing down a ho ho. Easy-going and full of life, it fills the emotional void in its life with vapid sentiment. Popular fiction lacks a sense of self, instead playing the part that is demanded of it by others. Popular fiction is always trying to escape its current living arrangements. It speaks with plain, everyday words, often in an amusing and quaint dialect.

Unencumbered by even the remote semblance of reality, popular fiction can dream big. It needs intense therapy to confront the deep seated trauma and pain of its author that it attempts to bury beneath escapism and dysfunctional relationships with readers.

Cormac McCarthy Sells a Time Share

I am calling to offer you the austere chill ushered in by a temporary retreat from societal expectations. The company I represent specializes in epicurean travel and respite from the shrieking madness of the autistic universe and you know something as this economy slouches towards the apocalypse we are offering the absolute best services for the absolute lowest prices.  (deep breath) But I am not calling you to sell anything today.  If I can offer you a deal that will crank out the vestibular calculations in your skull and prove to you beyond the deepest jagged wound of doubt that money is not the issue would you give it consideration?

Sir or Madame, we are willing to give away 3 days and 2 nights of hotel accommodations plus 2 round trip airline tickets to your choice of Black Hills North Dakota Machu Picchu Peru Wheeling West Virginia or El Paso and at no time are you required to take the great marching steps into the soulless oasis, counting them against your return. (deep breath) But I’m sure in the deep recesses of your primordial medulla youre probably thinking what is the catch right?

Sir or Madame, lets conjoin and vociferate on this in more detail at a later time while youre enjoying your fate.  It only takes an hour and a half of eternal regret.  We simply introduce to you a vortex in the universe to which you and the stars will become a common satellite. We just want your honest opinions and feed backs and I’m pretty sure if you spend your vacation like a great pendulum in its rotunda scribing through the long day movements of the universe of which you may know nothing you will know you must tell your friends, relatives and neighbors good things about us. Right? (Deep breath)

So let me ask you among the lovely destinies that I mentioned which sounds more appealing to you?

Thats a great choice!

So Ill be reserving 2 seats for you and your wife and the El Paso vacation package

Sounds good right?

David Foster Wallace Gets Serious About Laundry and other Books I Didn’t Publish

I’ve not published many novels and short story collections.

Here are 11 books I never published.

  • David Foster Wallace Gets Serious about His Laundry. A morally passionate, passionately moral fiction that tells what it is to have fucking clean clothing. An ironically unironic story about laundry that includes a 7 page footnote describing the manufacturing process and chemical composition of detergent packets.
  • What to Expect When You are Expecting Beelzebub. A new book for a new generation of moms carrying the antichrist, featuring a fresh perspective on carrying Satan’s son, in a friendly voice that doesn’t shame a mother for starting the Apocalypse.
  • Fifty Shades of Evolution. The torrid, erotic affair of two in physical, dysfunctional relationship.
  • The Harbinger, A Rebuttal. Is it possible that there exists an ancient mystery that holds the secret of America’s future, that lies behind everything from 9/11 to the European debt crisis to discontinued King Size candy bars? No, it is not possible.
  • The Boy Who Lacked Ambition. Autobiography masquerading as fiction. No fire, hornets, or dragon tattoos. Instead, sleep, slugs, and sloths.
  • Gerald Ford: Badger Hunter. Henceforth my life shall be one of rigorous study and devotion. I shall become a master of mind and body. And this mastery shall have but one purpose … to hunt badgers.
  • A Game of Chamber Pots. Some pissant becomes king of a miserable land with the help of his mommy.
  • A Story Written on Pages: A Novel. A novel, apparently.
  • Water for Llamas. Another Novel. A 93-year old runs away and joins a llama farm, described in well researched detail. He learns valuable life lessons.
  • The Nonsense of Beginnings. Pre-modernist story that is an uplifting affirmation of life, told from the viewpoint of Timmy, an admirable human being.
  • Three People and a Devastating Secret. The lives of a robot doctor, a toad thumper, and Dr. Who all intersect. By the end of the story, a devastating secret is revealed that will change their lives forever. Not only their lives, but the lives of their friends and family. The lives of all the gas station attendants and the wine tasters. The lives of Mountain Dew drinkers and celibate priests. The lives of everyone, changed forever.

JD Salinger Provides Customer Service

JD: This is JD Salinger, Why in Christ’s name have you called customer service?

Bessie (the Customer): This is Bessie Glass. I’m calling regarding my bill. JD: You do, eh? Would you do me the privilege of providing your telephone number or address, Mrs. Glass, so I can look up your account?

Bessie: 111-111-1111

JD: How can I help you today, Mrs. Glass?

Bessie: I’d like to know why my milk bill is so expensive.

JD: Jesus, Bessie, the price of milk has increased exponentially over the last few months. Don’t you know that?

Bessie: I understand that, but I cannot afford bill this high.

JD: All right then! Do you have a few moments to discuss some options, and figure out if we can help reduce your costs?

Bessie: Okay, but I don’t have a lot of time.

JD: You don’t have a lot of time. God. You think I have all the time in the world? Wait, don’t answer that. Taking a quick look at your account I see that not only are you getting milk but you’re also getting eggs, cream, cheese, butter, yogurt, and soda pop. In fact, you big fat cow, you’re getting enough soda pop to quench the thirst of the whole Soviet army. Have you ever considered the impact that only having milk delivered would have on your milk bill?

Bessie: Alright. Alright. How about if I cancel the yogurt. How much money will I save if I do that?

JD: You’re absolutely amazing. It’s staggering how you identified the one item that would reduce your bill by a staggering 3%. You’ve really inspired me.

Bessie: That’s quite enough, sir.

JD: But why stop there? You could also cancel the cream from your order and save another 4% from your bill. It would be an inspired decision. Divine in the way these cuts really get at the heart of the matter.

Bessie: Just stop that right now, sir. If I could reach right through this phone, I’d put a wash rag in your mouth.

JD: Well, gee whiz, you called me Bessie. I’m only here to help.

Bessie: You’re so funny. How about I take my business elsewhere, sir?

JD: If you canceled our service, you would reduce your costs significantly. I have a terrible feeling that you’ll experience catastrophic soda pop withdrawal.

Bessie: What else can I do?

JD: You could reduce your consumption of dairy products and soda pop by making a few minor adjustments to your lifestyle. For example, you could stop drinking so much damn soda pop. Bessie: Anything else that might not involve drinking less soda pop?

JD: An all soda pop diet.

Bessie: That sounds like a good idea. I’d like that.

JD: Yes, Bessie, I will happily drive you to an early grave by making your milk order completely dairy free and composed entirely of sugar water.

Bessie: Yes, that would suit me just fine.

JD: I’ll set that up today. Is there any other way that I can rot the teeth out of your head and shorten your lifespan?

Bessie: No, I think that’s all for now.

JD: Thank you for being our customer and have a good day. You won’t have many left on your diet.

I Only Watch Movies when Kate Winslet is Naked

I only watch movies when Kate Winslet is naked. The first movie I saw was Titanic, then I saw Holy Smoke and Quills. I didn’t watch many movies for the next five years. I did watch Eternal Sunshine of the Mind, even though Kate Winslet wasn’t naked, and then I saw Little Children, in which she was naked in numerous positions. I haven’t seen The Reader, yet, in which Kate Winslet was Oscar naked. That movie is on my list. I’ll need to see that movie, soon, to round out my repertoire of naked Kate Winset movies.

A movie with Rachel Weisz naked would be nearly as good as a movie with Kate Winslet naked. If I really wanted to see a movie, I might see a movie with Greta Scacchi or Isabella Rossellinia naked. I would also watch a movie with a naked Denise Richards, Kathy Bates, Tom Skerrit, Rin Tin Tin or a movie that has German subtitles or a science fiction movie–but only the intellectual sort of scifi, not pale imitations of Star Wars or horror movies masquerading as SciFi movies, although I did like Alien quite a bit. I don’t think Ian Holm has ever been naked in a movie. Maybe, never been naked at all.