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sunandshadow

Folk-tale Motif Index

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Cool thing I just discovered togay! Anyone interested in getting computers to generate fiction, you need to know this thing exists. A Folk-tale Motif Index is a 6-volume encyclopedia listing all the themes that occur in myths and fairytales from around the world. In 2 sentences this book gives you the set-up and resolution for an episode of a story, in general enough terms that most can be coherently combined into a larger story. Now if only I could find a good book about all the archetypes that have ever shown up in myths...

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Cool! Now if only you would get to work on helping out with the situations I have been asking for.

Edited by - bishop_pass on February 6, 2002 12:25:51 AM

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The local university or research library would be your best bet. search: motif index or Aarne Thompson (those are two last names of the co-authors of the most popular one.)

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Bah! Nonsense!

Good writers don''t need to rely on obscure forms of mythology upon which to base their stories. The only way I agree that this method would work would be if the writer used a well-known story and uses the general premise to mock the hell out of it.

FF8 did that magnificently, to say the least, taking the British Lit icon Beowulf and making a contemporary equivalent of him, Laguna, completely skewing the general format in a way I consider to be quite homorous(and equally entertaining). Aside from that, I truly cannot recall a game where the writer pulled it off in entertaining manner.

Quality writers should filled with workable premises to the point where they know they can never begin to write all of them. If a "writer" doesn''t, I suggest they take out a C++ book from their local library or just throw the entire gamemaking idea to the wind and take a heap of finance courses in college.

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AP, you missed the point completely. If you saw an entry from one of these indexes you would realize that they don''t give enough detail to allow the writer to either copy or parody an existing story. An entry is something like "Ants ask god for wings - wind blows ants away." Further, a writer, just like any other type of artist, is a scavenger who gleans interesting bets of things from the world then combines and reworks them in interesting ways to create art. If some African storyteller had a good idea a thousand years ago there''s no reason I can''t use the same idea in one of my stories. One of the most powerful types of fiction is metafiction in which older stories are included and responded to or twisted to support a different philosophical position.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Yes, and I still miss the point entirely, obviously. It just seems like a literary cheat sheet to me.

"If some African storyteller had a good idea a thousand years ago there''s no reason I can''t use the same idea in one of my stories."

That''s true. There is no reason why you cannot do this at all. It''s just sad that writers don''t value the idea of completely creating their own ideas from scratch. I mean, yeah, there''s nothing legally wrong with doing this, but when a writer sits down with a book to take an idea from a long since departed african storyteller then they''re essentially admitting that they lack the degree of originality to completely make their own stories.

It''s a REALLY bad habit current writers have gotten into. Stealing little bits and pieces from others because nobody will notice. No wonder so many instances of "creativity" written in the English language are complete garbage nowadays. There''s nobody out there saying "Hey! I write with my own pen! I don''t have to borrow anybody else''s!"

"Further, a writer, just like any other type of artist, is a scavenger who gleans interesting bets of things from the world then combines and reworks them in interesting ways to create art"

This is true, but I do not believe this sentence backs up your point in the post''s context. A writer needs to take interesting things from the world around them(and in the world in their mind), but I find it unethical for writers to dig through dusty old books for ideas to jumpstart, or even back up, their story.

Imagine if you wrote something completely original and a few thousand years later a no talent writer ripped the central concept of your story and tossed it in their own, still considering themselves original for unfathomable reasons. I''d be dead at that point, but I''d really look down upon the person who took my idea. I''d be glad to be of assistance to somebody so painfully lacking, but I''d also pity the fact that they''d need to take my idea because of their own inability to make up new ones.

"One of the most powerful types of fiction is metafiction in which older stories are included and responded to or twisted to support a different philosophical position."

This also has no bearing upon what we''re talking about. I do like the idea of satirizing things the audience can recognize. That way the point the writer was trying to make can be understood clearly by the readers(or at least those familiar with the subject matter). However, we''re talking about something entirely different.

This is taking elements from obscure stories that nobody would recognize and putting them into your own. Using these little plot tools to prove philosophical points is complete nonsense! If a writer has a philosophical statement to make then they should make up their own scenario in which to fuel their ideals.

It''s sad that I can find people to ACTUALLY advocate unoriginality in fiction. I don''t care if this is merely a videogame writing messageboard. This is an important lesson for all writers to learn. SOMEBODY has to come up with unique ideas. Ideas that were created solely by the writer and not taken from somebody else.

Oh well. I guess I''m just too damned old fashioned. I think the goal of writing should be for the writer to SAY something. True, something still would be said if their ideas were taken from some book they found in some library, but it wouldn''t be that writer saying it.

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I haven''t looked up the books discussed, but I see where the topic writer is coming from. I have to say, AP, that I thoroughly disagree with most of what you have said...(I''m assuming it is the same person.)

You, either specifically or collectively, are NEVER going to write a story, game, essay, whatever in which the theme is original. You will have Man vs Man, Man vs Nature, and Man vs Himself. Only the details will change. The important part of the story, the real "art" as it were, is in the WAY you tell it.

As to your assertion that (paraphrasing) good writers don''t rely on obscure forms of mythology...not true in the least, and that isn''t opinion. I can back that up.

Let''s look at horror since it more readily lends itself to this type of discussion. (Please bear in mind that we are speaking in global terms here, not individually.) There are several things that just scare the bejeesus out of a normal human, and these things are the same from one man to the next.

A room full of dead bodies is okay - not cool, but we can handle it. When they get up the ol'' blood starts pumpin''. I believe it is no coincidence that "Night of The Living Dead" is the most popular scary movie ever made.

Man has been afraid of the dark for eons, and any horror-suspense story that doesn''t use it will be neither horrific nor suspenseful. Ask Stephen King or Dean Koontz.

Nudity implies vulnerability. This is why the "possessed house" always attacks when the lady is in the shower. Also, look at "Psycho".

All stories of a given type or genre share elements. They have to connect to the audience on a subconscious level. If they don''t, you might as well have written a textbook. Even if the "good writer" doesn''t KNOW he uses these common elements, they are present, and I for one would rather consciously include them than accidentally write a good story.

As an aside, this has been a major problem with the game industry. Barring arcade style games, the most basic element of the game is the story. Many developers seem to forget this when it comes time to make a sequel, so the initial success looks like an accident. You know, many colleges require football players to take some kind of dancing/ballet and it really does improve their game. I feel anyone who wants to make games should spend some time just learning how to tell a story. It doesn''t matter if they are your stories or you are just reading to kids at the local library during summer. If you can''t tell a good story for 15-20 minutes, how are you going to tell one for the time it takes the player to complete the game?

Another use for a collection such as was mentioned above is for background research. If you are setting your political thriller in Africa, having a few obscure African mythological references thrown in will flesh the setting and be a reward for attentive players/readers.

A couple of Tibetan folktales can''t hurt when planning out dialogue involving the Dali Lama(sp?), now can it?


sunandshadow: The archetypes where the brain-child of Carl Jung. Any book on psychology will mention them, but a decent sized bookstore should have a fairly good book specifically on him and his ideas...and I would lay money down that any library will have something suitable. The only one I can think of off the top of my head is the "Pan/Goat-head-with-cloven-hoof/Satan" image.

ShadeStorm, the Day_Glo Fish

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There''s no such thing as inventing something totally from scratch. Whatever you write is based on your past reading history, your life experiences, your beliefs, etc. Creativity is just the ability to rearrange existing elements in an interesting way. So there''s nothing wrong in studying more resources in order to give you some fresh ideas for the future.

[ MSVC Fixes | STL | SDL | Game AI | Sockets | C++ Faq Lite | Boost ]

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