Are there really only two kinds of stories?


I recently heard this quote from American actor/writer/director/producer Garry Marshall:

“Write this down, filmmakers: all stories are ‘Cinderella’ or ‘The Little Engine That Could'”

I have to figure out if he’s right.  Help me.  Do these stories fall into only 2 types? Or are there more?

‘Pretty Woman’
‘You’ve Got Mail’
‘Pride & Prejudice’
‘Lord of the Rings’
‘Shawshank Redemption’
‘It’s a Wonderful Life’
‘Finding Nemo’

and super duper bonus question:
The story of Jesus Christ.

and double super duper bonus times infinity squared:
What do you think about the idea that all of humanity’s stories distill down to the question of rescue and the question of determination? 

What say you?

5 thoughts on “Are there really only two kinds of stories?

  1. what i think he meant by that is that there are only two stories: the hero’s journey and a stranger comes to town. little engine that could is the hero’s journey, and cinderella is the outsider story. extra credit:jesus is very clearly the archetypal story of a hero’s journey: -Miraculous conception and birth- Initiation of the hero-child- Withdrawal from family or community for meditation and preparation- Trial and Quest- Death- Descent into the underworld- Resurrection and rebirth- Ascension, apotheosis, and atonementsame structure as ulysses/oddessy, lion king, or avatar.heres some homework for you:joseph campbell outlined the hero’s journey in his book “The Hero with a Thousand Faces”. work is largely based on carl jung’s concept of the archetype, of which the hero’s journey is just one of the many archetypes within the collective subconscious. even more reading, but this one explains it very clearly, and much more: scroll through and read whatever catches your eye if you dont wanna read it all)this website explains the jesus story origins very thoroughly with a lot of research: dont believe it is some conspiracy that has kept people from knowing this info, its not that its been kept secret and is meant to be shocking, but it is nice to see all of it compiled together.bonus extra credit:i like to believe that the only two stories are hero or stranger, because at any given moment of your life, you are either on the hero’s journey, or serving as a mentor/aid to someone else on their own journey (the stranger that has arrived). we can only know the story from our perspective, or we can imagine what others think of our interaction.sorry for writing so much, i can only hope you read all these links and learn something interesting and valuable

  2. I think you’re right, Kenyon. Check out a great little book by John Eldridge called ‘Epic’. It’s a fascinating read about exactly this.

  3. This really simplifies and demystifies the story telling process for me. As I’ve thought about it all of about 5 minutes…it seems that really the two are one. You can’t have a rescue with out determination. Perhaps all stories mimic the greatest story of all? Or all stories point to the greatest story of all? Helps to understand why truth can be found in everything culture throws at us.

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