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Six Elements of Fiction

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Hmm. Forum too quiet... must start an interesting thread or two... Okay, there are 6 basic elements of fiction: character, character dynamic, worldbuilding, plot, theme, and register. Most writers are strong in some elements and weak in others, because people of different temperaments think about life more in terms of one or two elements and less in terms of the others. EDIT: definitions Character - A character is the author's mental simulation of a person, which the author then tries to communicate through either first-person narration (written as if the character were doing the thinking and speaking), close third narration (written as if the narrator shared all the character's biases and current mood), or description via other characters' dialogue (Ron said, "Snape's a greasy git!"). A character consists of an archetype overlaid with individuating details. Characters ought to behave consistently (well, as consistently as any human does...). Dynamic characters are those who are changed in some large way by the events of the story, and static characters are those who remain the same throughout the story. Characters are described as being either 3-dimensional or 2 dimensional (aka flat, stereotyped). Usually, main characters should be 3-dimensional and secondary characters more 2-dimensional. The upper limit of main characters in a work of fiction, no matter how epic, seems to be about 8. Character Dynamic (sunandshadow's favorite element! ) - Character dynamic is the relationship between any two or more characters. Standard dynamics include mentor-student, parent-child, lover-beloved, rival-rival, victor-defeated, master-slave, manipulator-manipulated, etc. The ones with more than two characters are like a love triangle, a hierarchy, etc. Often the dynamic between the main characters will shift throughout the story, and when it settles into an equilibrium state this signals that the story may now acceptably end. In other words, no one will complain, "Hey! Where's the rest of the story?! This doesn't feel like the end!" Worldbuilding - Your English teacher might have called this setting, but we science fiction and fantasy writers have to create whole cultures and planets, not just pick a setting on Earth. So worldbuilding is always two-pronged: cultural, and physical. Your physical worldbuilding should basically explore the question: "What if the world were different in X particular way?" e.g. What if my world were a space station? What if my world had magic? What if my world had really high gravity? Your cultural worldbuilding, on the other hand asks "What if...?" questions about psychology, sociology, and history. What if there were a high-technology society where slavery were legal? What if we could program people's minds? What if species Y had the instinct to build nests? What if suddenly there were no women? As with characters cultures should be consistent in either a static or dynamic way throughout the course of the story. Plot - A plot is a series of conceptually linked events that occur over time. TIME is the key word here - plot is where stories get their 4-th dimensional aspect from, the thing that makes them more complex than, say, a painting. Plot events may be of the following types: random physical event (e.g. an earthquake, a part breaking down in a spaceship), character reaction (e.g. he called me something unprintable so I fragged him), or character resolution to action (e.g. I vow to set foot on the Moon before I die). The vast majority of plot events in the average story, however, are character reactions - big complicated chains of character reactions, like dropping a ping-pong ball into a box of loaded mousetraps with more ping-pong balls balanced on them. One common way of describing plot is that an initial incident destabalizes an equilibrium situation, then everything fluctuates wildly until a new equilibrium situation is reached. (I really hope you've all had some chemistry classes, it makes this much easier to understand.) All plots have six stages as described in Freytag's pyramid and other similar theories. (This is described in another of my threads so I won't go into it here.) Stories that start In Medias Res may skip the first few parts or present them as backstory or flashbacks. Theme - this is a moral/ethical issue explored in a story. short stories may have only one theme, whereas novels and computer games usually have at least three. Themes can usually be stated in a vs. format (e.g. honesty vs. diplomacy, being a good cooperative citizen vs. having individuality and integrity, the unrequited lover vs. the uncooperative beloved, etc.). Register - This one's fairly well defined below, right? Basically you choose your individual words and sentence structure to convey a certain atmosphere, a certain palette of emotions and not other incongrous ones, a certain level of formality that subconsciously cues the audience what kind of story their reading and what to expect from it. Did that help, I hope? END EDIT Okay, here's what I want you to do. I want you to say what you think is the most important thing you've learned about each element, and what is a question you have about each element. Okay? Good. Go! [edited by - sunandshadow on February 8, 2003 9:38:44 PM]

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Register is the guiding principle of word choice, if that makes any sense. The emotional tone, the flavor - slangy, archaic, dreamy, stiff... The vocabulary level too. The way you can use word choice (and sentence structure too) to communicate who a character is, how he/she/or it thinks.

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Character -> Being able to identify (even if not personally) with the character. IMO there is no good to have a charater in a book noone thinks he is real or has any connection.
Chracter Dynamic -> Not quit following (sorry, not experienced writer )
World Building -> Important on stories/books/games where there is a lot of travelling. Saying "They travel to city A then B then C until they reached their final destination, city D" leaves to nothing but fustrating, why was it city D and not B and C and A ? While stories that don''t really on the travelling aspect (even if it is there, the travelling isn''t a big part of it) World building isn''t that necessary (a good case of Tolkien vs Card).
Plot -> I would define any story by its plot. Being simplistic or not, it''s what the story is about. A strong long plot can be as good and a short one. So, the most important thing for me is probably the relation (or path) of the characters with the task at hand (Frodo and the Ring, Ender and the Buggers (tho its completly disleading , etc).
Theme -> Dont really care much about this, so I dont think I have whats important.
As lofty said, what is register ? (and no, your answer didn''t make it much clear for me

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what I learnt ? Mmmh, maybe that''s a bit too much to ask from me. I''ll just write what I think I know

character : it''s hard to write anything that you dont know about, so most characters tend to illustrate aspect of your personality (usually the main characters) or aspects you like/dislike in you or others. Well, that''s what I have observed, especially in roleplaying games.
I don''t think it''s really a problem, as long as you are aware of it. If you are not, you might end up always reusing the same kind of people, which is a bit, well, unoriginal ?

character dynamic : although it is something that annoys me, my experience tells me that dynamic usually comes from conflict. It''s more interesting to observe the dynamic of a conflict, and its possible resolution, than people being all cute happy with each other. That''s why buddy movies work so well, for instance; while the BAtman and Robin duo is just lame...
Disfunctional families (Six Feet Under, anyone ?), passionate couples (Perdita Durango, I loved that movie), enemies forced to cooperate (mmh, From Dusk till Dawn ?), give a much more fertile ground for drama that balanced families, placid couples and perfect partners.
Note that the conflict can still exist in the complementary nature of two persons, rather than in their relationship per se (in Monkey B, Monkey B is a robber, but she fall in love with Brendan who is a perfect school teacher. Their relationship is perfect, except for the fact that they have totally opposite kind of life. As it happens, the quite life of Brendan is the escape Monkey B was looking for...)

Worldbuilding : on that one, I am biased as it is something I am looking a solution to. My method is to use the dialogue of characters to expose the nature of the world they evolve in, usually in a teacher/student relationship. It seems a bit lame though, but it''s more useful to go in depth than simple descriptions of the landscape.
I like the approach of Pratchett, which kind of puts the reader in the world and seamlessly takes break from the action to stop and explain aspects of the world, in the form of disgressions (sp?). I am sure there is a literary word for this POV Which works very well. I just havent had a chance to try it, but I am very much thinking about it.
(I hope that''s what you meant by "worldbuilding", though)

plot : well, to put it simply, it''s like character dynamics, the more conflict the better. In this case, this means opposition on what would otherwise be a straight road. Enemies to vanquish, problems to solve, obstacles to overcome, unplanned incidents, traps, false leads, you name it.
Sticking to the classics seems to help, too. Although, sticking too closely make a story predictable and possibly boring. Unless you are really skilled in other domains, I guess, like Jack Vance''s Lyonnesse, which has a fairy tale quality to it (you just *know* what''s gonna happen next) but precisely it''s the style that makes it so good (well, for me anyway).

theme : mmmh. I dunno there. The theme is a bit like choosing colours for a painting. You don''t really do a painting saying "I wanna do something with lotsa blue, and some pink" (well... *normally* you don''t). you just decide what colours you are gonna use to represent the idea you want to transmit.
Maybe I am misunderstanding theme, here. You mean the ideas to transmit ? Or the background style (genre, period, etc) ?
If you mean the ideas to transmit, then what I just wrote doesnt apply.
In this case I am not sure, but I have a feeling that themes that allow for unresolved issues, or unbalanced, unfulfilling endings seem to have quite a panache to them.
Something like sacrifice : someone sacrificing its life to save people, unbeknownst (I hope I spell that right) to them. There is something in me that screams "bloody hell that''s not fair", and yet, that''s what make so much more dramatic.
I like themes that allow to illustrate the foly of it all. Stuff like Saving Private Ryan, for instance, really worked for me. The whole "yeah it''s pointless, but it''s a symbol, and that''s why we are gonna do it" thing makes me jump with joy, especially when I hear other people saying "the plot was stupid, pointless".

Maybe you could explain theme a bit better, I am sure I could thing of something more specific to say.

register : well, I dont really know what to say. Register is just a tool you use to give your character more, well, character It''s another layer that you add to the description of a character, in a way.
I don''t really see what more importance you could give it. Not using variation in register is, well, a sign of a lack of vocable for a start. But then again, using too much of it can be quite "heavy" for the reader. For instance, serpents that constantly "sssspeak like that, becaussssse they have a ssssslight problem with the tongue", is just plain annoying, and not very creative.

for those who didnt understand register (and assuming that it''s not one of those "false friends" words again), let me illustrate :
"Greetings ma demoiselle, it is a pleasure to find you in such a radiant mood, today. I daresay your splendor brings a most welcome light in this most depressing environment".
compare to
"Hello my lady, you look quite beautiful, today. A bit of light in a place of despair, in a way."
"Yo mamzel, it''s some pair you got there. They make me all fuzzy jsut looking at them, surely better than all the gloom in this hell hole".

A lord, a commoner, a ruffian. 3 registers, three to express the same thing.

Anyway, that''s all I got time for now


Sancte Isidore ora pro nobis !

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Here''s a few of my thoughts here then.

Character - This element would be important where you need to set out the basic principles of the chracters you intend to protray as. This may include the physical, mental and, if required, the supernatural components of the character. At first you would need to list these attributes of the character to get the general idea of what you want to express about them in the story and then use this list as you write your key points for the plot.

Character dynamic - the element where you have the inter-character relationship for your characters. Here I would define how one character may percieve another character from others. Perhaps using the D&D series as an example where you can have parties with good and evil alignments, how do they react to each other''s actions? The good alignment may take offence at the evil alignment''s natural observation of perhaps a decaying body found during the quest. But they may still bounded by the same objective of their quest.

Worldbuilding - This element would contain the details of the world. It may include the geological aspect, perhaps through a basic map which may show where the key places to be reffered to during the story are and their importance/relevance to the story. So here you would need to put down some notes/details about the places of interest before starting the plot/story in further detail.

Plot - This would perhaps be the most continually adjusted aspect of the story. You might start with a simple paragraph of what you intend to have for the plot. And then when you have started your first drafts of the other elements which gives you a more informed idea on paper of how you can blend them into the plot. After the first drafts, you''d go back to the oringial plot and then add in more details to the plot which extend it to pageful or two of plot ideas. Going back to add more details to the other elements would then give you more information to add into the plot and perhaps then here you''ll be ready to set out the chapters for the story.

Theme - This element would be the first one to determine. You are creating the setting that will affect the characters, their dynamics, the world settings and perhaps the register. Is it to be fantasy? Then everything would need to be based on the fantasy concept, but you need to define here your version of the fantasy.

Register - ahw''s description of this element makes more sense to me. So this element could be how refined the game''s society is then? How different the characters would be interacting based on their background/race/education? If that''s so, then I''d probably refer it back to the character dynamics here but perhaps in more detail here for the story, in particular where NPC behaviours would be determined.

And there''s another element which I''m not sure how you''d call it or if it is part of register. The form/order of the story in how you tell it.. E.g., take pulp fiction, you have the ending and then the begining to the ending again in full. Do you tell it from start to end in conventional manner? Or will you use flashbacks? Or do you tell it in real time format? By real time I mean do you tell it with multiple sub-stories at the same time (I think I explained this one poorly)? Here I might also refer to an excellent text I read for when I was in school, In the Lake of the Woods, this story is quite profounding in how it''s written..

Ok I''ve rambled plenty here today.

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o.O Hmm, I suppose I really should have defined my terms at the beginning, but that''s the kind of thing you forget when you post at 3 in the morning. I tend to forget thet not everyone here has spent years being an English major and memorizing these things... Anyway, I''ll go edit my initial post to add definitions to it.

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For a good example on the use of register, you should read Dennis Lehane''s books, in order:

A Drink Before the War
Darkness Take My Hand

And so on.

Great stuff. And great use of register.

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So I wasn''t too far of the mark for "theme" then

I was thinking about it and I had to add an example that illustrate the kind of unbalance I enjoy seeing.
***SPOILER WARNING***
If you haven''t watched Mullholland Drive, what are you waiting to go and see it!?

Anyway, this movie is a perfect illustration of what I would call an unbalanced resolution.
During the whole movie the action is seen through the eyes of the hero, the good guy, desperately trying to uncover an enemy despite everybody''s disbelief.
You see him struggle and, as all good story should be, you expect that in the end, after an unbearable dramatic tension, all will be solved and the hero will win.
But he doesn''t.
Now, if that was just the end of it, it would be unbalanced, and unsatisfying, as the resolution of the story would go against our sense of "what ought to happen".
The reason it works is because suddenly, you realise that you have been watching not a hero trying to defeat the bad guys, but in fact, the bad guys trying to use the hero in their own schemes, and succeeding.
As you are made aware of that "over-plot", the story make sense, and is indeed balanced (resolved), although in the bad guys'' favour.
Brilliant use of perspective.

This is similar to "the 6th sense", although I like Mullholland Drive even because of the fact that the bad guys win, in a way. Which makes it all the more horrible.

Anyway...

what about you SunandShadow, are the answers what you were thinking about ?


Sancte Isidore ora pro nobis !

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Phew, finally got around to answering this post myself.

So, what is the most important thing I have learned, and a question that I still have about each element?

Well, questions I have about them are easy.
- How many definite unique character archetypes are there, and what are they? If I had to guess offhand I would probably guess there were about 60, but when I tried to calculate them my tentative answers ranged from 260 to 1,200. o_O Literary and psychological theorists have suggested different sets of 8, 10, or 16, but I haven''t found a set that I like yet.

- Same for basic character dynamics - how many, and what are they? I listed some above, but the list is certainly not complete.

- Actually, I could even say the same for theme. There must be a finite number of themes, because there are only so many issues that humans care about in a moral way. Hmm... wonder why I''m so obsessed about making lists of archetype and dynamic but not of theme? Although I do collect proverbs, those are like micro statements of theme...

- Plot, this is the one of the six elements that has always baffled me the most. I''ve read like 40 books on the subject and I''m still not comfortable with plot. Sometimes I feel like I have _only_ questions about plot, and no answers. o_O I suppose the most basic question I would ask is ''How does the human mind evaluate what is a satisfying plot?''

- Worldbuilding and register at least I have no questions about. ^_^ I''ve found my favorite register: Chatty and slangy with lots of introspection and ironic humor, literal-minded rather than full of symbolism. Sometimes I would rather read something more poetic, written in fairy-tale language, but if I try to write that way I always end up frustrated because I can''t find the right word and a higher-formality register is too emotionally distancing for the stories I want to write. So, now I enjoy it when other writers write poetically, but I don''t try to force myself to do that. ^_^ And of course each writer needs to find their own favorite register or two. (Some published authors have two distinct registers that they use for different types of stories, but very few have more than two, because writing in a register pretty much requires your brain to, at least temporarily, adapt to thinking that way.)

Worldbuilding, well that has just always come naturally to me. If you have the instinct for how societies evolve and behave, and you study technology, genetics, and the history of thought a little, that''s really all you need for decent worldbuilding; everything else is just detail and consistency-checking. I was writing an article on how to do worldbuilding a while ago, I should probably try to finish it one of these days...

Hmm, I guess with that I''ve seguayed into what I''ve learned. So what have I learned about the other elements? Well I put most of that into my definition of the terms, but let''s see...


About Character:
- The hero and the villain can switch positions if you regard the story from a different point of view. Villains aren''t plainly evil, heroes aren''t purely good. Every major character in your story should be both flawed and loveable if you look at them from the right perspective. A villain that the author likes is generally a well-written villain.

- Also, every single character has their own fears, desires, and motivations. You need to figure out these too, not just the character''s personality, to be able to write that character.

About Character Dynamic:
- IMHO, this is what really makes a story go. You can have all the fascinating wondorus worldbuilding and pretty register you want, but without character dynamic it''s not a story. Character dynamic is how you express your judgements on the themes your story explores, in terms of which characters get rewarded with happy endings and which get poetic justice punishments. Character dynamic is what makes plot meaningful - nobody cares if the hero finds the foozle until you mention that the foozle is a ring so he can propose to the love interest, or the foozle is a medicine to save the sidekick whom the hero would be lost without, etc. One of people''s major subconscious motivations for reading fiction is that they feel like they''re missing some sort of vital relationship dynamic in their lives and they want to vicariously experience this missing relationship through your characters. This is why there are millions of lousy romance novels not only published, but actually read, every year.

About theme:
- It''s often easiest to write a story, read it over to figure out what themes you subconsciously put into it, and then edit to bring these out, make them clear and show why the audience should care. A novel should have a new theme introduced or an old theme revisited in a new situation about every 30 pages. A short story should have only one or two themes, and if it has two they should usually be related.
- Themes also have to do with catharsis, though this might not be obvious from first glance. People write stories where humans are wiped out and animals repopulate the earth to cathartize their guilt about pollution, etc. People write about a powerless person becoming a hero because they''re sick of feeling powerless. People write about getting kidnapped to a strange land because they feel blocked from accomplishing anything meaningful by the structure of thw real world. And readers read these kinds of stories because they need those kinds of catharsis too.

About Plot:
- Well, I don''t claim to be an expert on plot; far from it! But, I''ve learned a few little things. The first paragraph of any story is VERY important. First, if there''s anything you should agonize over and edit 10 times, it should be the first paragraph - it needs to establish atmosphere and present an initial problem, situation, object, or idea for the reader to ponder. Secondly, the initial incident is very important. It should happen within the first five paragraphs of a short story, or the first thirty pages of a novel. Almost all adult readers are able to recognize what the initial incident is when they see it, and if they don''t like it they will probably put the book down, skip the story, whatever, you''ve lost them. It is vital to create sympathy between the reader and the character(s) affected by the initial incident so that the reader will want to keep reading to see what happens next. And third, the climax is again very important - you have to get the reader worried/excited/sympathetically angry, then make events work out in such a way that the reader is surprised and satisfied. At the end of the climactic passage your reader should either be grinning, or panting in relief and exclaiming "Oh thank goodness!" or "Whew, that was close!" Room enough for humor, sap, or melancholy in the denouement.


I guess that''s all I can think of to say.

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Ehh...those are too complicated. Let''s cut it down to Orson Scott Card''s MICE quotient (explained better in his Writer''s Digest book Characters and Viewpoint). It''s less confusing.


Milieu - For a game, actually not all that important to anything except an RPG and maybe a few FPSes.

Idea - Ideas are the idea tried to get across by the writer. Not all that important to a game.

Character - Epitome for RPGs, lesser for most FPSes.

Events - Critical. Without this, nothing happens.

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quote:
Original post by Edward Ropple
Idea - Ideas are the idea tried to get across by the writer. Not all that important to a game.



o_0" Not all that important to a game...?! *sunandshadow faints* Good thing I''m not your English teacher, I would have you writing 500 lines of "Without moral and ethical significance plot is meaningless. Without moral and ethical significance plot is meaningless. Without moral and ethical significance plot is meaningless. Without moral and ethical significance..."

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Well, let''s see - Starcraft, FF7 (and other FF games), Sanitarium, Harvest Moon, Chrono Trigger, Grand Theft Auto, Syphon Filter, Soul Blazer, E.V.O., Lunar Star Story... There are lots of games, from strategy sims and adventure games to FPSs and RPGs, that make a strong moral statement. Can you think of a game that had a _good_ story which didn''t have a moral or two? Even if the games with good stories and morals are not the majority, they are what this forum is all about creating. I don''t mean to be grouchy (it may be because I''ve been battling the two feet of snow that fell around my apartment ) but a writer is an artist, an artist must have self-discipline and appreciation for the complexity of his art, and it seems lazy to say that a six-element system is too complicated, so let''s not think about two of the elements, and the third isn''t very important either... It''s also amusing to see such a statement in relation to Mr. Card, who very much believes that hard work and suffering are good for people. If I still misunderstand you, then please enlighten me.

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I've never played half those games, and I will confess I've never beaten the campaign of Starcraft. You misunderstood me, but then I didn't make myself clear. I wasn't saying /I/ believe that's the way it should be, I'm saying that's the way it appears to me. Very few games, even ones with stories, give a "moral statement". Baldur's Gate, for example. I severely dislike the Final Fantasy series, and the mention of it is making me break out in hives, but to an extent, you're right, those try to give a moral message (but it's always the same damn one...). The greatest RPGs of all time (Lunar, hell yes...) do too. But most games, sadly, don't.

And I just brought up his MICE quotient simply because I thought your six elements were splitting hairs in places (character and character dynamic? That's splitting the same topic in two, in my view). I didn't mean too complicated in that sense - I was sleepy when I wrote that. Is that clearer?

[edited by - Edward Ropple on February 18, 2003 6:55:33 PM]

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Milieu Ideas Characters and Events ?
I guess it''s not a bad summary. Milieu encompasses Register and Worldbuilding ? Ideas for the Themes, Events for Character interaction and Plot, I assume.

theme
I wish I could search through the forum to find an old post I made about theme and how to illustrate them in the narration. I had read it in one of my Vampire : The Masquerade books, as an advice to Storytellers on how to make their well, storytelling, better.
I thought it was an interesting concept, a sort of "subliminal message" for the storyteller. It gives IMHO, depth to the writing by allowing the writer to use less direct ways of expressing ideas (suggesting, rather than showing).

Example : one of the faction in the story is traditionally associated with fire, for their use of it and their defiance of it (fire is lethal to vampires, scares them witless, just like the sun). At the beginning of the story, this faction (the Sabbat), is dominant.
To show this in a indirect manner, the scenes were the action takes place includes elements related to fire : in the background, a building is burning (possibly the haven of the heroes).
As the story progresses and the power of the Sabbat decreases, the images of fire used are accordingly smaller. Some bonfire in the woods, a barrel around which some homeless are warming up.
As the last remaining forces are wiped away, a final image could be described : a candle blown out, a cigarette squished, dying embers being scattered by the wind (of change )

I had never thought of something like that, and I find it''s a brilliant idea that I am eager to try on my players.
But I think it would be even better used in writing as a way of illustrating themes. (They had a specific word for those images, but I cant remember it for the life of me...)

anyway

plot
I think it''s all about closure. We just have a feeling that something just doesnt fit, or is missing and it disturbs us.
We *expect* things in stories which would not normally happen in real life, precisely because we know that in real life, things happen as they should, not as we would like them to.
We expect so much because stories, as you pointed out S&S, are there to help us; through absolute horror or absolute joy, we experience catharsis, or elation (to feel elated, yes ?).

IMO, if you intend to provide the reader with catharsis, you go for the greek tragedy style : things start bad and they go down and down the drain. It''s like listening to sad depressing music (Lisa Gerrard works for me) when you are sad and depressed : some people wont understand and start worrying that you might commit suicide, while others will simply let their own bad vibes be drained away and out of their system. Just like rock is a good way to release Angst.
I am not sure about the plot structure itself, but a general guideline would be : when you reach a point where things could actually get better, when a ray of light seem to shine at the end of the tunnel, when a hand reaches out for you; things get worse, the light is that of the train coming towards you full speed, the hand is there to keep your head under the water...

the other type of plot is all about overcoming obstacles, it''s just a tale of life, really. We go through obstacles, and we get stronger. You dont deliver the princess before you have had to kill an ogre or at least hacked your way through a forest of thorns
It''s a bit boring in my opinion... see my first post about the kind of "unbalanced" plots I prefer

Do you see any other types of plots ? other "parameters" that could be tweaked to make something different ?


Sancte Isidore ora pro nobis !

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quote:
Original post by Edward Ropple
You misunderstood me, but then I didn''t make myself clear. I wasn''t saying /I/ believe that''s the way it should be, I''m saying that''s the way it appears to me. Very few games, even ones with stories, give a "moral statement". [snip]

And I just brought up his MICE quotient simply because I thought your six elements were splitting hairs in places (character and character dynamic? That''s splitting the same topic in two, in my view). I didn''t mean too complicated in that sense - I was sleepy when I wrote that. Is that clearer?



Ah, I see now. ^_^ Hmm, I suppose you could consider character dynamic to be an aspect of character; I personally think it''s more closely related to plot since both share that 4th dimensional aspect and none of the other elements really, do, but then that''s a matter of perspective. And for morals, it''s certainly true that there are games that don''t have any. I just feel that the purpose of this dialectic community is that we as artists are striving to do the best game writing we can do, which to me means: strong characters, emotionally involving and intellectually interesting atmosphere, plot, and worldbuilding, and unifying moral themes. So I try to keep that ethic central, especially in discussions of writing technique. ^_^

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quote:
Original post by ahw

IMO, if you intend to provide the reader with catharsis, you go for the greek tragedy style : things start bad and they go down and down the drain. It''s like listening to sad depressing music (Lisa Gerrard works for me) when you are sad and depressed : some people wont understand and start worrying that you might commit suicide, while others will simply let their own bad vibes be drained away and out of their system. Just like rock is a good way to release Angst.
I am not sure about the plot structure itself, but a general guideline would be : when you reach a point where things could actually get better, when a ray of light seem to shine at the end of the tunnel, when a hand reaches out for you; things get worse, the light is that of the train coming towards you full speed, the hand is there to keep your head under the water...

the other type of plot is all about overcoming obstacles, it''s just a tale of life, really. We go through obstacles, and we get stronger. You dont deliver the princess before you have had to kill an ogre or at least hacked your way through a forest of thorns
It''s a bit boring in my opinion... see my first post about the kind of "unbalanced" plots I prefer

Do you see any other types of plots ? other "parameters" that could be tweaked to make something different ?




Ahh, you mention plot types.

Have you seen This Thread?

I''m sure you remember This One, since it was your thread.

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quote:
Original post by sunandshadow
I''ve found my favorite register: Chatty and slangy with lots of introspection and ironic humor, literal-minded rather than full of symbolism.

Then no doubt you would love the two books I recommended above, for the first person narrative is chatty and slangy with lots of introspection and ironic humor, and is literal minded rather than full of symbolism. It''s a shame really, because the stories are a gritty narrative about a PI team in Boston - not really your thing, and yet the register is just what you''re looking for.

*sigh*

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sunandshadow :

ah yes The 36 dramatic situations. How on Earth did I ever forget to metion that one ? ah well...

on the other hand, reading what kind of books you like, and give that I am reading the last one at the moment, I couldnt help but think that you would really enjoy reading Laurell K. Hamilton ''s Anita Blake novels. They are told from the first person, and the girl herself, who is a necromancer/vampire executioner is having more than a few problems to deal with in her busy life, not the least being dating an alpha werewolf and a vampire prince (well, not in the first books, that is.) The whole beauty of this series is to see her slow descent and acceptance of what and who she is, while trying not becoming a true monster (as in, a sociopath).
There is sex (not really in the first books, though, as the heroin is a true believer of no sex before marriage), there is violence, quite a lot in fact, lots of weird monsters, and a never ending amount of powers and weird stuff happening all around her (not mentioning the fact that, as a vampire specialist and necromancer, she works for the preternatural police unit). Did I mention that this was an alternate universe were monsters really exists, vampires are recognised by law, etc ? Yeah, pretty cool stuff
Just go and read the reviews on Amazon, but I think the style would fit your description



Sancte Isidore ora pro nobis !

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