Introduction to the topic “Superplots”

Before you create a plot, you should think about which topic you want to put at the center of your story. This question is extremely important, because every story always deals with several themes, but always has only one central theme.

The central theme is the guiding idea or first-order theme of a work. Everything else is subordinated to this theme. Or to put it differently: all other elements of a story ultimately lead to this theme again and again. The problem for an author now is that he or she has a certain idea, which often does not yet contain the theme.

There are probably thousands or millions of themes that can become the starting point for a story. What should an author now orientate himself by? How is he supposed to know that a basic idea or a topic really works? Or what a story ultimately boils down to? I want to anticipate one thing: There are certain themes that are already dramatic and contain tension, like “revenge”, “intrigue” or “serial killer”. So there are themes that are particularly well suited for a thrilling story.

Superplots make it easier to recognize the basic structure of a story. If you study the superplots I have described in more detail, it will certainly be easier for you to bring your own ideas in line with a superplot in order to develop it optimally.

Superplots are the common denominator of the most successful stories of all time. The great stories, which last for centuries, have general structures that appear again and again in narrative history. This general structure is the basic theme, the essential narrative motif or superplot.

The 28 crime story superplots discovered so far:

  28 crime superplots
1. the protector

 Care is taken to ensure that nothing happens to an important person.

  2. the innocent suspect

 The questioning of persons is an attempt to incriminate or exonerate a suspect.

  3. detailed determination

 Evidence is collected and the trail to a criminal is reconstructed.
4. monitoring

 A person is secretly observed and/or overheard in order to convict him or her.
5. time pressure/ultimate date

 Within a small window of time a criminal must be convicted and/or a crime prevented.

  6. the expert

 An advisor or expert is called in because a crime cannot be solved without their help.
  7. Pursuit: Hunt for Criminals

 A suspect or criminal is pursued by all means (car, helicopter, on foot, etc.)

  8. being besieged by criminals

  The criminal or criminals exert pressure on a small,  protected place and the people there.

  9. duel

 An officer of the law is  challenged  by a criminal to  a duel.

  10. vigilante justice (revenge)

 After a severe emotional loss, a cop or  ex-cop seeks retribution.

  11. undercover

 A cop slips into a different role and contacts criminals to prevent a crime
 or to convict a criminal.

  12. on the trail of a big thing

  Behind an initially small crime lies a conspiracy of great magnitude.
13. intrigue of the own people

 Because of a conspiracy, a cop’s life is suddenly threatened – by his own people.
  14. conflict of competence

  Two different characters argue about how to solve a crime.

  15. lighting from different perspectives

  Because a crime appears mysterious, different people are interviewed to solve it.
16. a well-coordinated team

 A team with every move in the right place solves cases on the fly. Everyone is a professional or expert. Several eccentrics. (plot 6. Only multiple)
  17. love between cop and killer

 The killer is infatuated with the investigator. Or the investigator falls in love with a seductive woman, for example.
18. an inexplicable phenomenon

 No one can explain something mysterious and uncanny whereupon an investigator gets the case and is supposed to clear it up.

19. the stranger

An external investigator is assigned to a case. He is usually considered a luminary in his field. He is not popular in the environment in which he is investigating, because he soon uncovers dark machinations in the new environment. 

20. the perfect duo

In this superplot two investigators complement each other perfectly and “pass the balls” to each other.

21. Chaos Cop(s)

One or more cops act dumber than the police allow, but they make progress in their investigations and can – no one expected it – solve the case. 

22. planning and executing a crime (perpetrator)

The history, the career and the crime of an offender are investigated or told in detail.

23. remove the body(ies) (perpetrator)

A crime is to be covered up. To do this, the perpetrator must make an effort and plays cat and mouse with an investigator.

24. reconstruction

A crime is reconstructed and reconstructed by a team of specialists – a technically complex investigation. 

25. the impossible murder

No one can explain how a certain murder could have happened. The murder seems impossible, therefore impossible to carry out. An investigator literally bites his teeth out at it. 

26. investigation adventure

The plot is chaotically structured. The investigator is like a modern Odysseus who has to maneuver his way through a sea of temptations and attacks on his person.

27. an ensemble of suspects

The hallmark of this superplots is that there are various dazzling and less dazzling people, all of whom are suspects and from whom the perpetrator must be identified.

28. prevent crime

It is usually a team that protects people and tries to prevent crime. 

You have an idea for another crime story superplot? Then write us at info (at) We will check the plot and get in touch with you.

(The superplots will be explained in more detail in a book to be published soon).

To continue reading, use the drop-down menu under “Crime Story” or click here.