PDA

View Full Version : The Elements of Interest



Perks
05-28-2011, 11:30 PM
I ended up in a discussion that spanned two days over why stories couldn't be 'nice'. It wound around so that my position, semi-succinctly stated, was that stories had to be sufficiently distinct from workaday experience to hold our attention, to showcase larger observations and ideas. One or more of four elements pretty much had to be present to make a story worthwhile:

jeopardized love
loss
peril
violence

But there weren't any other writers in the group, so I'd be interested to hear if you had any additions to the list (or subtractions) or if there are any examples of compelling stories that don't feature these pivots.

Radhika
05-28-2011, 11:54 PM
Looking at all of these elements and my own favorite books, no, I don't see any without these elements.

Wow, anyone else who finds something, do tell.

Do note though, I haven't read that many books.

Perhaps something I could think of would be a children's novel, but that doesn't count, does it?

Medievalist
05-28-2011, 11:56 PM
All literature pivots around one or more of love, sex and death :D

I'm only partly serious--but those do tend to be involved.

scarletpeaches
05-28-2011, 11:59 PM
All literature pivots around one or more of love, sex and death :D

I'm only partly serious--but those do tend to be involved.The best involve all three.

Why yes, I do have a vampire novel out on the 2nd of August. Tell your friends!

Soccer Mom
05-29-2011, 12:00 AM
All literature pivots around one or more of love, sex and death :D

I'm only partly serious--but those do tend to be involved.

This! Some form of love, sex, and death is necessary. Plus a little greed never hurt a story. I'd toss treasure into the discussion. Show me the money!

scarletpeaches
05-29-2011, 12:03 AM
Are we forgetting ninja kittehs, people? Are we?

Soccer Mom
05-29-2011, 12:03 AM
Ninja kittehs=death

BenPanced
05-29-2011, 12:08 AM
If they're always "nice", stories won't have the conflict to move the characters forward. They'll be static, never growing or learning anything. They'll be BORING, violating one of the Cardinal Sins of Writing ("...yea, and the scribes sayeth thou shalt do anything thy heart wisheth in thy writing but FFS thou shalt not do boring..."), which I personally think is hardly entertaining; even if the story is about how boring these characters are, there would still have to be some event or events for them to react to so we can see how boring they really are.

Williebee
05-29-2011, 12:10 AM
Growth.

I want to add some kind of character progression/growth to the list.

But then I think about "The Road", so maybe not. :)

mscelina
05-29-2011, 12:11 AM
I've always thought that at least one of the seven deadly sins has to be inherent in the plot in order to carry through to one of those larger scenes. I try to incorporate at least one of them into every major character I write, whether a protagonist or an antagonist.

Except for sloth. Hard to make a lazy character interesting, at least for me.

scarletpeaches
05-29-2011, 12:13 AM
I've always thought that at least one of the seven deadly sins has to be inherent in the plot in order to carry through to one of those larger scenes. I try to incorporate at least one of them into every major character I write, whether a protagonist or an antagonist.

Except for sloth. Hard to make a lazy character interesting, at least for me.Rip van Winkle and Sleeping Beauty.

(Actually...I wonder if I could put an erotica twist on those?)

BenPanced
05-29-2011, 12:43 AM
I've always thought that at least one of the seven deadly sins has to be inherent in the plot in order to carry through to one of those larger scenes. I try to incorporate at least one of them into every major character I write, whether a protagonist or an antagonist.

Except for sloth. Hard to make a lazy character interesting, at least for me.
That reminds me of something I picked up in Bobbi Smith's sessions at RTCon...*scrambles for notebook*

Here we go:

The SLAPEGG theory of conflict -
Sloth
Lust
Anger
Pride
Envy
Greed
Gluttony - Seven Deadly Sins drive and establish conflict

mscelina
05-29-2011, 12:46 AM
But Sleeping Beauty and Rip Van Winkle weren't slothful; they were bewitched. Totally different.

Birol
05-29-2011, 12:53 AM
Rip van Winkle and Sleeping Beauty.

(Actually...I wonder if I could put an erotica twist on those?)

It would be rather easy to do with Sleeping Beauty. Hardly a worthy challenge for you.

scarletpeaches
05-29-2011, 12:56 AM
It would be rather easy to do with Sleeping Beauty. Hardly a worthy challenge for you.Yeah, it would seem a bit Rape van Winkie...

Bookewyrme
05-29-2011, 01:07 AM
But Sleeping Beauty and Rip Van Winkle weren't slothful; they were bewitched. Totally different.

Actually, I thought Rip van Winkle was lazy. That was pretty much the entire reason why he went to sleep out in the woods in the first place, rather than being at home working like he was supposed to be. The bewitchment only entered into it to make him sleep for 20 years.

Also, I think you could have a lazy character who becomes less lazy as the story progresses, and that would be interesting. In fact, in Little Women (which I was just rereading) towards the end of the story, one of the major characters (Laurie) becomes entirely slothful. His sloth is one of the points that the romantic arc for his character is based on, because he loves one of the women for stirring him up out of his slothfulness.

I do agree that making sloth exciting is a lot harder than any of the others, particularly lust or anger. But I don't think it's impossible. :)

Perks
05-29-2011, 03:36 AM
It would be rather easy to do with Sleeping Beauty. Hardly a worthy challenge for you.'Tis been done as well, Anne Rice's, The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty. Although, I think it really should be called, 'The Spanking of Sleeping Beauty'. Anne Rice was very fixated on paddled bottoms.

mscelina
05-29-2011, 03:45 AM
I do agree that making sloth exciting is a lot harder than any of the others, particularly lust or anger. But I don't think it's impossible. :)

Hence the reason I finished "at least for me." I don't want to write about lazy characters because they don't work for the plot arcs I tend to devise. In my worlds, lazy characters get eaten alive. Literally. You have to be in shape to survive one of my plotlines.


'Tis been done as well, Anne Rice's, The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty. Although, I think it really should be called, 'The Spanking of Sleeping Beauty'. Anne Rice was very fixated on paddled bottoms.

Yeeees, indeed. I read those when they first came out. Despite the oxymoronic nature of the theme (hard to be asleep when one is being spanked) none of the books in that trilogy (yes, she managed three books about spanking Sleeping Beauty) ever caught my interest enough to hold it. Took me longer to read one of those than it did War and Peace.

*shudders*

scarletpeaches
05-29-2011, 03:48 AM
I hear those books are a tad rapey anyway.

BenPanced
05-29-2011, 03:49 AM
Yeah, it would seem a bit Rape van Winkie...
Your new neighbor has something to tell you. (http://www.rhymes-with-witch.com/rww05022011.shtml)

mscelina
05-29-2011, 03:51 AM
I hear those books are a tad rapey anyway.

They're too boring to be about rape. At least rape would cause some kind of reaction--whether in the character OR in the reader.

JMO, of course. I love some of Rice's work, so I'm not an anti-Anner. I just really, really hate this series. These books gave erotica a bad name for about twenty years.

Kind of like the only way to make non-missionary sex palatable to the reading public was to make it misogynistic and boring.

*shudders again*

Mr Flibble
05-29-2011, 03:55 AM
All literature pivots around one or more of love, sex and death :D

I'm only partly serious--but those do tend to be involved.


And power (or the lust for it). But love sex and death are the biggies. Power often tends to come at the cost of love (or the lust for power negates the lust for love etc etc), but not sex or death :D

bearilou
05-29-2011, 05:04 PM
And power (or the lust for it). But love sex and death are the biggies. Power often tends to come at the cost of love (or the lust for power negates the lust for love etc etc), but not sex or death :D

"Everything in the world is about sex except sex. Sex is about power."

Oscar Wilde

:nothing

scarletpeaches
05-29-2011, 05:06 PM
In that case I really, really, really want some power over James Purefoy.

bearilou
05-29-2011, 05:53 PM
In that case I really, really, really want some power over James Purefoy.


...can I watch? I promise not to get in the way. :popcorn:

bluntforcetrauma
05-29-2011, 06:36 PM
Growth.

I want to add some kind of character progression/growth to the list.

But then I think about "The Road", so maybe not. :)

The Road...wow, what a novel.

Jamesaritchie
05-29-2011, 07:15 PM
Like everyone else, I do write stories about love, that contain, violence, but I do not try to showcase larger observations and ideas. I'll leave that to the philosophers. One person's workaday life is not the same as another's, but I want my observations and ideas to be as applicable to everyday life as possible.

I also write a bunch of plain old humor, short stories that have nothing to do with sex, death, love, or violence. They're just funny. And I write tales that are simply about having fun, or accomplishing something difficult.

I'm content with the micro, and stories that simply entertain, stories that the average person can relate to. I've leave the macro to others.

Perks
05-29-2011, 10:23 PM
Yes, James, you're certainly right in that attempting to engineer philosophical points in storytelling is dangerous ground. I guess what I was really saying was that it's usually more engaging to assess the mettle of a man in a tricky situation than during his dilemma over brands of processed cheese at the dairy counter.

But you make a good point that in humor, the elements of interest widen considerably. It's one reason I think humor is so valuable in all sorts of writing. The funny palette makes everything more real, because life is damned funny.

emmyshimmy
05-30-2011, 01:14 AM
Sex, drugs and rock n roll :)

I think growth is a good addition. Growth can include the reader. The best books I've read left me feeling changed.

AmsterdamAssassin
05-30-2011, 12:37 PM
In that case I really, really, really want some power over James Purefoy.

Well you could dress up like Lucius Vorenus... ;)

Phaeal
05-30-2011, 06:09 PM
Give the characters problems. Could be problems with love, sex, health, war, life and death, spirituality, social status, economic status, family, friends, rivals, work, play, monsters, aliens, governments, terrorists, hairballs or carburetors. So long as there are problems. That's about it.

Oh, and Brussels sprouts.

Perks
05-30-2011, 06:34 PM
Oh, and Brussels sprouts.For some, Brussels sprouts are problem enough.

Not for me, though. I like tiny cabbages.