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Six main kinds of stories...

Discussion in 'Chit Chat' started by ThinkerX, Apr 12, 2017.

  1. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    ...according to a computer:
    The Six Main Stories, As Identified by a Computer - The Atlantic

    The story types:

    I like that an SF writer came up with the concept - Vonnegut was one of the old line 'Greats,' but find the '6 main types' a bit misleading. (There are other story types, some popular.) Plus, the model comes across as overly simple.
     
  2. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    Yeah, all that this sort of thing demonstrates--with huge respect to Vonnegut!--is that we humans are obsessive pattern finders. We will find a pattern, which we often take for significance, in just about anything, including random alignment of stars, the neighing if horses, the flight of birds, and just about anything to do with the stock market.

    There are an infinite number of story types: good ones, less good ones, still less good ones ... infinite variations ... bad ones.
     
  3. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

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    Skip is right. We are a species of pattern finders and spurious correlators; Post hoc, ergo propter hoc and all that.
    I'm kind of surprised that the computer didn't reduce the list further...
    Slope, Curve and Yo-yo...
     
  4. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    What if you fall, then fall again, then flatline, and then rise suddenly only to crash into the ceiling?

    I'm sorry, I just... I mean whatever helps someone figure all this out, I guess, but reducing a story to a very short pattern of ups and downs seems kind of pointless to me.
     
  5. La Volpe

    La Volpe Sage

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    While I agree that it seems a bit simplified (and fairly obvious?), I think it's a nice way to look at the bigger picture. To get an idea of how a story can be structured on a macro level. Since this is usually how I construct my stories in the beginning stages (i.e. macro to micro), I see some value in this list.

    That said, the 'rise, fall, rise' et al seem pointless. If we're going to include those, why not include 'rise, fall, rise, fall, rise, fall'?
    It seems to me that only the first four are useful.

    Or maybe it's even simpler than that. Comedy or tragedy; i.e. end on a high point or end on a low point.
     
  6. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    I tried to fit some of my stories into one or another of the six categories. It didn't work too well.

    'Labyrinth: Journal,' for example is about transformation. I suppose it could be shoehorned into #3 (Man in a hole, fall then rise), but it doesn't fit there very well.
     
  7. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    I can see that being useful as a small step of a larger process.

    I think what irks me about this list is the effort to draw this false equivalence between stories that can really be very different. Think about your typical "rags to riches" story - then think about Bronn from A Song of Ice and Fire. The characters' upward trajectory seems like a small and shallow way to argue that all these stories are basically alike.
     
  8. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

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    I don't think it is supposed to help at all. At the most I think it is meant to remind us that, no matter how unique we think our stories are, all stories are just variations on a few themes. And everyone can come up with their own list...
     
  9. It looks like they're measuring the amount of happiness in stories to come up with these ideas...?

    Weird.

    Anyway, I don't find this helpful. Change/metamorphosis is a better way to think of changes in characters of mine than rise/fall in "fortune" (whatever that means.) What if a character's circumstances don't change much, but they themselves do? Is a character gaining happiness or good fortune even indicative of anything happening within the character of importance?

    I'm thinking of 1984...starts out in a pretty crappy place, then we have hope for a little while, then that's taken away. So rise then fall, or fall then rise then fall...?

    I have no idea what my WIP is supposed to be. My MC changes a lot, but... I don't know. Fall then rise then fall then rise then fall...Gaaahhh! There are more steps! And how does it end? But this barely describes what actually happens in the story. You could interpret MC's circumstances variously as a rise or a fall.
     
  10. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

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    The computer modeling crew focused on emotional trajectories rather than plot per se. I'm not incredibly sure Vonnegut's focus was the same, although I imagine "fortune" would generally translate to "happy/happier" and "misfortune" would usually translate to "sad/sadder." So the fact that the stories are rather different may be irrelevant. Also, what constitutes happier or sadder may be inherently (heh) relative. For me, the framing for Bronn, in ASOIAF, puts all kinds doubt in the idea of "fortune" because in that world for most of the tale, fortune automatically carries the added qualifications, "uncertain, ephemeral" heh.

    So often when thinking of thinkers, philosophers and theorists, I can't shake the understanding that each spoke from a particular historical bias. Regardless of whatever real worth I might find in any given model, so much about the model is informed by some bias. I wouldn't even label the bias particularly personal or a matter of taste, although this can happen; but there's a certain socio-historical bias they can't really recognize in themselves.
     
  11. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    I believe there is merit in an author viewing his or her story as unique. We authors are telling *our* stories. We mine for our own gold. To me it would be disheartening to think "oh yes, what I'm writing now falls into this well-known bucket." Believing, however erroneously, that my tale is uniquely my own provides me a strong motivating force.

    Once the thing is done, let the reviewers and critics and philosophers find patterns. Let a thousand flowers bloom. I told my story; what others do with it after that is their own business and, anyway, I'm off writing my next tale.
     
  12. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

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    This may be a matter of personal taste. We frequently discuss "well-known buckets" like the 3-act structure, genre expectations, tropes being useful—and as often, feel the need to rescue our Freedom Engines from those Mobius strips, heh.

    I find Vonnegut's characterization interesting and somewhat useful. The fact that it could apply to stories of very different types might, from one point of view, not represent an example of creative imprisonment but an opportunity for boundless freedom.

    OTOH...


     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 10, 2017
  13. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

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    Using and understanding general story patterns can be useful. But they're just vague shapes that still allow for infinite variation. It's kind of like saying a mountain kind of gets pointy at the top. Or it's like how cartoonists use basic geometric shapes like circles, squares, etc. to guide them as they draw something.

    [​IMG]
     
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