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Author Topic: The "7 plots of literature" discussion.  (Read 919 times)
Dincrest
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« on: March 25, 2012, 09:46:03 AM »

http://www.ipl.org/div/farq/plotFARQ.html This site looks at the various theories of there being 1, 3, 7, 24, or 36 basic literary plots and that every story boils down to one of these.  

I figured this would be a good time to bring up this topic of discussion since the Hunger Games film is out and we're already seeing people spouting stuff like, "Yeah, I already saw it back in 2000 when it was called Battle Royale" and other stuff about how they don't have to see Hunger Games to know that "it's just a cheap knockoff of 'the original.'" (which, you know, isn't a truly original concept.  It's certainly been done before.)  I'm reminded also of the "Simpsons Did It!" episode of South Park. 

Basically, no matter what story you see, someone already did it first because there are only a finite number of plots, right?  Reflects the finite nature of the human experience?  For me, I don't expect true originality in my stories, but I do expect good storytelling.  I feel as if "How To Train Your Dragon" explored the same themes as "Avatar" much more effectively and presented IMO a more engaging story.  It's like two chefs making mac 'n cheese and one just pleasing my palate more I guess.  

So, do folks buy into any of these plot theories presented in the link?  Why or why not?  

Do you think there are any plot points that these theories overlooked?  

Is "so-and-so did it first" an acceptable argument against a story's credibility?  When does that argument go from being decent to pseudointellectual snobbery?  

In looking at the various mediums we enjoy at the 'Fan (video games, movies, books, comics/manga), is that "been there done that" feeling stronger in one medium vs another?

Basically, discuss and debate the whole notion of "finite plot" theories and perhaps even how we use them when trying to argue a point.  

 
« Last Edit: March 25, 2012, 09:51:05 AM by Dincrest » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2012, 11:01:55 AM »

Firefly ripped off Cowboy Bebop.
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« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2012, 11:29:34 AM »

I think its not what the plot is that it is important, it is when it is written which is the true indicator. Since we are talking about Battle Royale we will go with that, since it was written as a response to growing feelings of resentment between two generations in Japanese society.

I think there is a reason why books considered classics and important landmarks in literature are considered dreary by children who read them many years later, and I don't think it is what words are used. It's that they can't relate with the feelings at the time and thus the book in unimportant and doesn't resonate very well, except for a few who get it. However books like the Hunger Games are more relative to today's young people as its message is something that they are familiar with. The Hunger Games uses a media which is at an all time high, reality TV as its main focal point.
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« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2012, 12:33:31 PM »

Hence the topic of junk fiction and why the "finer" (ie; confusing and strange) arts seek to be "better" because they can't be understood or comprehended so easily.  I agree you see a lot of re-hashing in fiction, but it's about how it's done; but I suppose after a long while of being exposed to similar plots over, and over, and over again -- you do start to notice and you do start to get a bit bogged down by it.
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« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2012, 09:49:55 AM »

Dice,

It's a pretty condescending opinion to to say that fine arts measure their achievement by their difficulty, how much they confuse, or how weird they are. Could you elaborate? I'm not saying that what you encounter in the fine art world is not necessarily confusing, strange, or difficult, but I dispute that any of those things are the end goal or even in the artist's mind at all.

Star,

I agree with you insofar that all novels/any art are products of their time. I don't agree that people don't relate to these because of the feelings expressed. Are our feelings different today than they were 500 years ago? 1000? Why do religious texts still resonate today just as much as they did when they were first penned? Explain why Shakespeare still is read, if not for the rich emotion connections people have to the characters in his plays?

Language is not this static thing. Words fall in and out use, meanings change, but more importantly, the way people speak changes a whole lot.

To Respond to the Overall Topic,

I think anything in both pop and fine art culture have been done before on an emotional level. The characters names will be different, they may live on a different planet, but when you get to the bottom of any situation, they're still human (or have emotions humans can relate to). Everything else is just furniture, so to speak.

The way stories are told is what matter to me most. If you look at the history of any medium, this is where you see the most variance in technique.
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« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2012, 11:08:07 AM »

Dice,

It's a pretty condescending opinion to to say that fine arts measure their achievement by their difficulty, how much they confuse, or how weird they are. Could you elaborate? I'm not saying that what you encounter in the fine art world is not necessarily confusing, strange, or difficult, but I dispute that any of those things are the end goal or even in the artist's mind at all.

It's meant to be condescending.  At the end of the day, however, (and what I more meant to say, because I hate avant-garde shit), it is sometimes very hard to find original work, something you haven't seen before.  And to anyone who has looked at some misshaped statue in some pretentious art gallery, that the point of the artwork is to be unlike anything you have ever seen.  Why do you think a list like the one Din posted you can nod your head and go "yeah", or actually have the term "by the numbers" a common enough (albeit negative) review?  That's all I meant.  I'd argue as well that there is nothing against enjoyable everyday fiction if it is done right.  Sitcoms and TV dramas are some of the worst offenders, but if it's good, then fuck it, it's good. :)
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« Reply #6 on: March 26, 2012, 11:12:02 AM »

I remember the BBC making tv adaption of Shakespeare plays, "Hamlet", "The Taming of the Shrew", "A Midsummers Nights Dream" and "Macbeth" about ten years ago, only they were set in modern day Britain. It was a really great series that I looked forward to for the few weeks it was running, which looking back is surprising since I had absolutely no interest in Shakespeare before that. I found it much easier to relate to the comedy, the drama, the suspense when it was set in an environment I was familiar with.

I'm not saying that the original Shakespeare works are irrelevant, I'm just saying that it should come as no surprise that there would be a disconnect in emotion between young people reading Shakespeare and young people reading something Shakespeare-esque but has modern trappings.

(and I am only talking about young people, or at least most of them, now that I'm a "grown up" I have been to many original Shakespeare plays that I really enjoy).
« Last Edit: March 26, 2012, 11:17:41 AM by Starmongoose » Logged

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« Reply #7 on: March 27, 2012, 03:04:27 AM »

I don't really have anything mind-blowing or essayrific to say on the subject. However I am of the opinion that the subject of 're-use of plot/s' is really of no great importance. Simply for the fact that there's always a 'first time' for someone. Zombie Movie #1029 might not be the most original or even the best of it's plot archetype; but eventually for some person, some place, some time, it will be 'fresh and original' because they've never been exposed to the material before. *shrugs*

Also there's the sub argument that even if the basic plot is the same there can never be such a thing as the 'same story' because there are an 'infinite' number of characters as opposed to the finite number of plots. The same general plot will play out differently if the protagonist is a middle aged man who grew up in posh 1800's London as opposed to some starving 8 year old waif from the forsaken wilds. As such if you took only one singular plot and told it from the perspective of a different human being on the planet that's 7 billion different stories; this isn't even counting personifications, which will also generate different stories because even if you graft a carbon copy personality from one of those 7 billion people the fact that it happens to an inhuman character will alter the hows and whys of the tale.

Factor in that these same 7 billion unique characters would develop into entirely new characters if placed in different eras, cultures, ect. and that these will keep changing throughout time as new history is created on a daily basis; then I think you have a pretty solid argument that there is no such thing as 'running out of original stories' because you literally cannot exhaust the character supply.

« Last Edit: March 27, 2012, 03:11:29 AM by ZeronHitaro » Logged
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