Brave Protagonist hails from an Idyllic Little Town by a large city full of totally relatable people who are nice and get along, where goats stay put, and where everyone knows everyone. There, life is simple and good.
But a place and time and setting that is simple and good is no place and time and setting for a Brave Protagonist, so Something Horrible happens, or perhaps Something Horrible gets made up and passed around a few rounds in the pub until everyone else starts believing it too, but either way the effect is the same. Brave Protagonist promptly leaves on an Important Quest about which he must tell no-one, and which is of course not related in the slightest to Something Horrible.
The Quest is very important. It generally involves trying not to die and attempting to save his friend and rescue his friend's mum and a captured princess and get down the neighbour's goats that got stuck in a tree, and it is a Great Quest, and nobody explicitly specifies what it is, because to do so would Ruin Everything. But he Quests. And Travels. And in his Travels, Brave Protagonist encounters the Real World, including Scary New Things and Strange People and various Plot Devices and a conspicuous lack of concern for how to actually fund any of this. Thus the plot of the Important Quest begins to thicken; Something Horrible is gathering, and Brave Protagonist must hurry; time is running out to stop Something Horrible and save his friend and rescue his friend's mum and the captured princess and get the goats out of the tree, or Badness will ensue.
So Brave Protagonist undergoes a Debilitating Internal Conflict and despairs and an entire Group of Brave Protagonists gathers and buys a round of drinks from around the bar, out of the woods, and across the lands. Suddenly all seems hopeful, except there is also a Scary Antagonist after the lot of them, but a Troubled Town needs their help and one of the Group gets captured and a goat got out of the tree and ran away, so they must stop and help the Town and rescue the Captured Protagonist and find the goat that got away.
But first the Group of Brave Protagonists must sit around a fire at a bar in a subway and talk about their feelings. And there is much misery about how they're Wasting Time and meanwhile the Big Bad Plot is congealing and they're just sitting there.
Finally, Brave Protagonist tells the rest of the brave protagonists to shut the hell up and go to sleep.
So then the Group of Brave Protagonists goes and Helps the Town and Rescues the one that got captured, but because of this the goat that got out of the tree manages to completely get away and is now lost. It is a Metaphor for Something Horrible and makes the brave protagonists uneasy, but nobody says anything.
Because the goat is gone, instead of getting the goat, the brave protagonists must now look elsewhere for leads. They break into a merchant's wagon and an empty rail car and a Government Warehouse, but then someone comes and they have to hide. Hiding, they overhear Terrible Things. The Terrible Things tie into Something Horrible and explain what Scary Antagonist has against brave protagonists, and suddenly it all makes sense, and things Look Bleak.
Worried, the group remains in hiding and says nothing until they can leave, at which point they panic and Brave Protagonist has to talk to each one and figure out just what about the goats in the tree and the captured princess and the friend and his mum and the Scary Cat Omen following them around and the trying not to die is bothering them the most. At some point, an Epic Speech is made. The group bonds, and then they break to say prayers and buy groceries and visit girlfriends and warn The King that Something Horrible is coming.
And they have Direction.
It is very heart-warming.
Troublesome Literary Device
And all seems finally to be going well. The Inherent Literary Clichés are singing merrily, the pleasant things in the sky are glowing cheerfully and illuminating the world, the brave protagonists and angry girlfriends and important groceries and remaining goats are all accounted for. Even some vampiric veggies that caused some fuss have subsided in their bother. Finally, finally, the plot seems back on track, when all of a sudden, out from the shadows in a dark place behind a rubbish bin in a refrigerator leaps a Troublesome Literary Device! Doors slam. The Inherent Literary Clichés stop singing. Brave Protagonist tries to keep the group calm, but it is Troublesome.
So they turn and face the Troublesome Literary Device, but as half the story remains to be told, it goes badly. Several nearly die. The group Gets Divided. The friend's mum is taken by Something Horrible. Several goats escape from the tree and get away.
One of the group, separated from both of the two new groups subsequent to the separation, is A Not-So-Brave Protagonist. He gets fed up and turns around and goes home.
Another of the group completely missed the entire thing and sits down and doodles.
Now that the Group of Brave Protagonists has been Divided, there is much Internal Conflict. There is worry that the Gods Are Angry and that Everything is Doomed and that Something Horrible is coming and Scary Antagonist will kill all off the remaining goats. Some of the brave protagonists also worry about their girlfriends and their friend's mum and their own safety.
Brave Protagonist despairs, but his newly smaller group attempts to reassure him. They tell him to Be Brave, to continue, to finish the Important Quest. They say they are behind him and that they will back him and that they brought beer and cheese and News From Home, so cheer up, dammit.
At last, after much persuasion and emphatic arguments, as well as some perusal of the News From Home, he regains composure. They continue on with the Important Quest, though Something Horrible gets worrisomely near.
The other new group, separate from the first new group, does not have beer or cheese or News From Home. Instead, of reassuring themselves and cheering up, they compound their frustration and Cheer Down. They embrace the hopelessness and join forces with Scary Antagonist in exchange for some Pitiful Bribe. They are now Group of Former Protagonists, and proceed to cause problems.
Meanwhile, things Get Dreadful. Something Horrible spans the world, the supermarket, the rail yard, the refrigerator and the tree. Scary Antagonist kills the friend's mum and takes away the rest of the goats. But it is time to Strike Back. It is time to end it, time to Face Scary Antagonist and End Something Horrible and Get the Neighbour's Goats Back and complete the Important Quest once and for all. So they come to the enemy stronghold, lay siege to Scary Antagonist's fortress, call tech support, and get a ladder. It is dramatic. It is drawn out. It is flashy. Someone dies.
At some point, Group of Former Protagonists enters and fights Brave Protagonist. They knock over his beer and nearly Destroy All Hope of ever recovering the goats.
Meanwhile, a brave protagonist discovers his friend's mum is dead. He tries to keep it away from his friend until after the Dramatic Climax ends, telling himself it would only Complicate Things. He secretly hopes one of them will end up dead by then so he won't have to tell his friend at all. But then his friend Finds Out and Gets Angry and kills Scary Antagonist and it works out anyway.
Somehow, Something Horrible magically disappears immediately afterwards. Brave Protagonist gets his beer back. Group of Former Protagonists surrenders. A Not-So-Brave Protagonist, back home, finds where his wife hid his porno stash.
The goats, now firmly out of the tree, amble home. As an afterthought, someone Rescues the Captured Princess and marries her.
Needlessly Drawn-out Ending
Loose Ends are tied up. Someone buries all of the dead people and picks up the empty beer cans and cleans up the mess in the bathroom. Someone else calls yet another someone else to come haul away the refrigerator. Inherent Literary Clichés sing merrily. There is Much Rejoicing and everyone goes home.
The Idyllic Little Town is exactly what it was like before. Some of the brave protagonists make a big deal about how it is now spring or summer or morning or Monday. There are flowers blooming in a trash can. Suddenly, everyone is Reunited With Their Loved ones and the neighbour gets his goats back. More Much Rejoicing ensues.
Everyone Draws Everything Out for as long as possible.
Finally, Brave protagonist goes back to his life as if Nothing Had Happened. At least, until the author runs out of royalties from the first installment.