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Basic Plots


7 posts in this topic

Posted

In the status update discussion, Davidm and DaveT brought up the subject of original stories in literature.

I don't think there is a magical number to basic plots in literature, but I think each level of breakdown or categorization has their own uses and level of application or relevance to the story at hand.

One:

All stories come down to this existential question: WHO AM I?

Three:

1. the Happy ending, where the main character makes the illogical choice, or sacrifices something, and the right ending ensues.

2. the sad ending, where the main character makes the logical choice, but fails to sacrifice something, and the sad ending ensues.

3. the Literary plot, where there's no decision to make, for everything is up to fate, the climax takes place at the beginning of the story, and the tragedy inevitably follows.

Seven:

1. Self against Nature

2. Self against Another

3. Self against the Environment

4. Self against Technology

5. Self against Supernatural

6. Self against Self

7. Self against God

Myself, I prefer Hayden White's four emplotments:

Romance, Comedy, Satire, Tragedy.

Romance is the hero's triumph over evil.

Satire is the opposite: characters are stuck until they die.

Comedy is where the characters and the environment find balance, and everyone laughs.

Tragedy is where the hero fails, is resigned and learns the limit of the world, and by extension the audience.

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Posted (edited)

It has been said before that there are five or six or seven or whatever basic ideas to fiction, and everything else is a variant of one of those main ideas. There may be some truth in this, but I have my doubts.

One thing that is also missing from this formulation is metafiction -- fiction about fiction. Two pre-eminent worthies in this field are Borges, with his fictions about fictional books, and Stanislaw Lem, with his book reviews of books that no one ever wrote.

Edited by davidm

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Posted

It has been said before that there are five or six or seven or whatever basic ideas to fiction, and everything else is a variant of one of those main ideas. There may be some truth in this, but I have my doubts.

One thing that is also missing from this formulation is metafiction -- fiction about fiction. Two pre-eminent worthies in this field are Borges, with his fictions about fictional books, and Stanislaw Lem, with his book reviews of books that no one ever wrote.

Certainly, metafiction doesn't belong in any of the traditional categories, but on second thought - why coudn't it be a form of satire, although supplemented with self-reflexivity?

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Posted

Actually I think it is a form of satire, or of parody of fiction itself. Perhaps what is needed next is meta-meta-ficiton -- fictional reviews of fictional reviews of fiction. Perhaps I'll devote myself to that. :deal:

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Posted

You can issue a meta-review of Cartaphilus' Wake Up and Smell the Ambrosia, which is a fictional Avant Garde manifesto from a backstory that hasn't been written yet, of a graphic novel that hasn't been published yet. :deal:

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Posted

I believe I'll give that a shot. :D

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Posted (edited)

I believe I'll give that a shot. :-D

:yess:

This is the old backstory from years ago, the third story in the OP.

Edited by The Heretic
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