From Harry Potter and Romeo and Juliet to the stories of Oedipus and Icarus, almost every tale told conforms to one of just six plots, researchers have claimed.
A major new analysis of over 1,700 stories identified the core plots 'which form the building blocks of complex narratives'.
Researchers used complex data-mining to locate words linked to positive or negative emotion in each story to reveal the set of arcs.
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A major new analysis of over 1,700 stories identified the core plots 'which form the building blocks of complex narratives'. Shown, the plot of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which researchers found has the 'rise, fall rise' plot.WHAT ARE THE SIX ARCS?
Fall-rise-fall: 'Oedipus Rex', 'The Wonder Book of Bible Stories', 'A Hero of Our Time' and 'The Serpent River'.
Rise-fall: 'Stories from Hans Andersen', 'The Rome Express', 'How to Read Human Nature' and 'The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali'.
Fall-rise: 'The Magic of Oz', 'Teddy Bears', 'The Autobiography of St. Ignatius' and 'Typhoon'.
Steady fall: 'Romeo and Juliet', 'The House of the Vampire', 'Savrola' and 'The Dance'.
Steady rise: 'Alice's Adventures Underground', 'Dream', 'The Ballad of Reading Gaol' and 'The Human Comedy'.
Rise-fall-rise: 'Cinderella', 'A Christmas Carol', 'Sophist' and 'The Consolation of Philosophy'.
The most popular stories have been found to follow the 'fall-rise-fall' and 'rise-fall' arcs.
An emotional arc is similar to a plot building block that tells a story by generating an emotional response from the reader, reports MIT Review.
For example, 'man falls into hole, man gets out of hole' or one of the most well-know, 'boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl'.
And prior to Computational Story lab at the University of Vermont's study most believed there was anywhere from three to more than thirty different arcs.
To conduct the study, researchers used sentiment analysis, which is the idea that words have both positive and emotional impacts, to map the emotional arcs.
Words can be measured of the emotional valence of text and how it changes from moment to moment.
The team then analyzed the emotional polarity of 'word windows' and slid these windows through the text to create a picture of how the emotional valence changes.
This task was performed on fictional works taken from the Project Gutenberg website that had been downloaded more than 150 times each.
And finally, the data-mining technique led the team to the six main emotional arcs: Fall-rise-fall, like Oedipus Rex; Rise and then a fall, such as stories from Hans Andersen; Fall and then a rise, like The Magic of Oz; Steady fall, like in Romeo and Juliet; Steady rise, like in a rags-to-riches story such as Alice's Adventures Underground; Rise-fall-rise, like that of Cinderella.
'We strengthen our findings by separately applying optimization, linear decomposition, supervised learning, and unsupervised learning,' reads the study published in the journal arXiv.
From Cinderella and Romeo and Juliet to the stories of Oedipus and Icarus, almost every story conforms to one of just six plots, researchers have claimed. The six in order: Rise, Fall-rise, Rise-fall-rise, Fall, Rise-fall-rise, Fall-rise-fall
'For each of these six core emotional arcs, we examine the closest characteristic stories in publication today and find that particular emotional arcs enjoy greater success, as measured by downloads.'
The team also dove into the seven book series of Harry Potter, as it may seem these stories would have multiple plots.
But, the entire series can be classified as ‘Rag to riches’ and ‘Kill the monster’ story.
Researchers scanned over 1,700 stories into a computer and used data-mining to find words that convey positive or negative emotion in order to reveal the most commonly used plots. Shown in the graph is one of the 6 plots, 'Steady fall' and results when the team analyzed Romeo and Juliet
There are also many sub plots and connections between them that complicate the emotional arc of each individual book.
And feeding the story into the computer, it clearly revealed all of the low parts in the stories that many fans know too well.
Following the discovery of the set of six arcs, the team dug deeper into the link between emotional arc and the number of story downloads in order to find which types of arcs are most popular.
This task was performed on fictional works taken from the Project Gutenberg website that had been downloaded more than 150 times each. Researchers found that the most popular are those that involved two sequential man-in-hole arcs and a Cinderella arc followed by a tragedyHOLLYWOOD IS INSPIRED BY ANCIENT STORYTELLERS
A team of scientists at the Centre for Language Studies at Radboud University in the Netherlands found that stories tend to be retold using the most recent versions of them.
By examining more than 200 different versions of the story Red Riding Hood from the past 200 years, the researchers found there was a strong 'lopsidedness' in how they were retold.
Many of the story structures depicted in William Shakespeare's tragedies like Romeo and Juliet can fall under the a 'Fall' arc category
They found that re-tellings tended to reply upon more recent versions of the story rather than using older material.
The findings might help to explain why common story-telling threads can be found thought out literature, theater and cinema.
For example many of the story structures depicted in William Shakespeare's tragedies like Romeo and Juliet can be found repeating in later stories.
Indeed, his own story of star crossed lovers appears remarkably similar to the legend of Tristan and Iseult, according to some experts.
But the findings also explain why remakes in the film industry can often seem to fail to take the story in a new direction.
The researchers also found that a small percentage of early texts – which they call pre-texts – spawn most of the re-tellings.
This means that some versions can have far more influence over the way a story is told than others.
In the case of Little Red Riding Hood, the researchers say the story can trace its beginnings back to 1697 when the first literary version of the tale Le petit Chaperon rouge, was written by Charles Perrault.
They point to two striking changes made later by the Brothers Grimm – the rescue of the child by a hunter and the emphasis on obedience or good behavior – that have become pervasive in subsequent re-tellings.
They constructed what are known as story networks by crating computational word models that classify relationships between texts.
The researchers said: 'Re-tellings of Red Riding Hood preferentially link to a small number of stories that are pre-texts of many other re-tellings.'
The most popular are those that follow Icarus (rise-fall) and Oedipus (fall-rise-fall) arcs and stories that follow more complex arcs, which use the basic building blocks in sequence.
Researchers also say that the most popular arcs are those that involved two sequential man-in-hole arcs and a Cinderella arc followed by a tragedy.
There are two stories that really support the ‘Rags to riches plot mode, which are Alice’s Under Ground’ and ‘Dreams’.
And among the most categorical tragedies, the plot that is a steady fall, are ‘Man in a hole’, Romeo and Juliet and The House of the Vampire.
The team also found that the ‘Cinderella", ‘Oedipus", two sequential Man in a hole" arcs and ‘Cinderella" with a tragic ending are the most successful emotional arcs.
Following the discovery of the set, the team dug deeper into the link between emotional arc and the number of story downloads in order to find which types of arcs are most popular. The most popular are those that follow Icarus (rise-fall) and Oedipus (pictured) (fall-rise-fall) arcs