Permit me to write about something that probably makes me a geek: Story Structure and Cliches.
If you are not into film reviews like I am, or book discussions, you may not feel this subject is important, but I submit to you that it is and it affects your life more than you think.
Let’s jump in:
First of all, a story structure is the type of story you have constructed. Each genre has a few different structures to it. Romances have a comedic structure, or a sappy structure, or even a adventurous structure. It all over laps.
The structure, as you can probably guess, is the blueprint of how the story plays out. Its’s how you use your characters and plot devices, how you narrate the story, and how long it is. A short story has a different structure from a long (in this case 300+ pages) story.
The reason story structure is important to the non-writer or reader is because it will be present in pretty much every area of your life that you hear anecdotes, sermons, lessons, plans, or ideas in.
It can tell you a lot about a person when you know the structure they use to talk about themselves. Are they dramatic? Are they pragmatic? Are the emotional or are they stoic? What does their self;narration tell you about them.
I think, ladies and gentlemen, that the adage that life is a story is the truest way to describe it. The way we measure each other is through the elements of story. The way we talk is shaped by it.
You may have heard the saying that we are each the hero of our own story. I do not think that is true. It is quite possible to be the villain of your own story.
I was just watching a Superman movie, and before it came on some creators of a different Superman story were shown talking about their own personal kryptonite. The last man said “I would say I am probably my own kryptonite.”
That man is honest.
We have other weaknesses, but we are our own worst enemy most of the time.
Ever wonder why the protagonist who constantly makes mistakes and misses the point annoys you so much? They remind you of you.
People have acknowledge that we dislike the most human characters most strongly. In real life that is also true. People who screw up constantly frustrate us. The one worker on the job who has to be re-shown how to do something again and again, that student who’s a little slow, that junkie who won’t stay clean, you when you look at what you’ve accomplished in your life and think you could have done so much more.
We are vicious on these people as a society, and sadly often as individuals, I do it too.
But are we really just mad at ourselves?
I’m not the first person to suggest that, and I won’t be the last either. I am just throwing it out there.
In a story we root for the capable and the good. I’ve known some commentators to think this is delusional of us. That we don’t want to face up to our humanity in the flawed characters.
But writers understand why the good characters have to be the role model. They are the best of us and we only get better when we have a better person to admire and imitate. The human characters cannot do that for us because they can never be our superiors. In life you cannot look up to the person that is failing constantly. You have to find someone who is succeeding more that you.
Let’s talk about cliches/tropes now:
A cliche or trope is thing that writers use a lot, if it’s a trope it’s just a way to tell the story that is necessary to the style. But a cliche is overused, unoriginal or lazy.
In real life cliches show up everywhere as old poetical slogans, cheesy commercials, lame excuses. Don’t you hate them?
I know I roll my eyes.
But tropes are more interesting. I often, as part of the people group of internet review watchers, here people complain that a solution was used in a movie or book that seemed like magic, or too good to be true. Or even occasionally too bad to be true.
Tropes are fascinating simply because they show up in real life, tropes are what make stories seem real to us.
Here’s a few of them:
- The Chosen one.
- The magical happy ending
- Redeeming Wicked Characters
You’d be surprise how angry people get over the last one.
The chosen one means the hero is selected, one might say called, to be the answer to the stories problem.
It’s something we see in real life a lot. We know some [people are born to do certain things, and could not be happy unless they did them. Artists are born, writers are born, speakers, and those are just the common language ones. There’s thousands more.
We can see how historical figures were meant to shape the world. Gandhi being one of our more popular examples now.
The magical happy ending can be unrealistic, but more often then not it comes because the chosen one set things right. Peace is restored. People begin to thrive again. How often have we seen this in history? And even in our own lives. Maybe our happy endings don’t last, but the principle remains. You notice any time a story becomes a series the happy ending is temporary. It is meant to resolve one problem, not every problem, and that is how we live it out in our lives.
As for redeeming evil characters, we don’t see this as often. But when we do it’s surprisingly true to how stories portray it. People change because someone is kind to them; because they realize what they’ve become; because they have a revelation of truth. This is how characters change in stories, and it’s true to life.
Why does all this matter to the person who does not care about assessing stories?
Because stories are going to shape how you think about this stuff in real life. IF you don’t believe someone in a story can change, chances are you don’t believe people can change.
It’s funny to me whenever someone acts like how they view fiction and how they view reality are separate. Like it’s not their mind and beliefs in both areas. Give me a break.
I hope this was enlightening or interesting to everyone, until next time–Natasha.