The main storytelling technique I wanted to look at was a rise to power/power fantasy theme where the main character starts off weak and through things like training, experience and fortunate encounters they get stronger and stronger. This is also known as a hero’s journey or a monomyth. This is a very popular storytelling style and is seen in many webcomics, manga and anime. Some examples of these are:
- Solo Levelling
- Martial Peak
This is a core aspect to some genres, such as shōnen manga where the main character awakens their power and trains it and xianxia (cultivation) manhua where there are set strength levels such as dao source realm or emperor realm, and character cultivate their power which is rooted in a more spiritual form such as gathering qi or world energy.
Another genre I view a lot of is action comedies, this covers a lot of media from mainstream films like marvel to webcomics and light novels. These use similar storytelling techniques to the rise to power but may also include things such as nested loops where there are layered narratives or in media res which can be used to very quickly grab the viewer’s attention. These techniques, like the rise to power, can have a lot of comedic relief and tend to use it as a core feature of the story rather than more of an addition. Some examples of these in media are:
- Marvel Cinematic Universe
- Demon Slayer
- The Beginning after the end
The final technique I wanted to look at was the mountain which maps the tension and drama of a story, the reason I wanted to look at it is it can cover many genres, some of which have no similarities. For example, it can be used in a pure heavy hitting drama TV show such as Peaky Blinders, but can also be used in romantic comedies such as Horimiya where it intertwines comedic and dramatic moments. I think the reason for this is that drama and tension is so intrinsic to a story that the mountain is almost always applicable.
The above points are what I have learned from lectures and from my own perspective after consuming different stories from many media, however it can also be explored through a scientifical method, for example the University of Vermont created the Hedonometer which used computer programs to analyse story data (Reagan et al., 2016). This was done by tracking “the emotional content of the plot by looking for words such as ‘tears,’ ‘laughed,’ ‘enemy,’ ‘poison’ and so on” (Autocrit, 2018). Using the data they collected, they found that there are 6 basic story types.
- Rags to riches (rise)
- Tragedy (fall)
- Icarus (rise to fall)
- Man in a hole (fall to rise)
- Cinderella (rise to fall to rise)
- Oedipus (fall to rise to fall)
All 1737 stories that they analysed are available online to look at, where you can compare the per word average happiness shift, the story’s happiness over time and its overall average happiness (Hedonometer, 2016).
I have 2 main ideas that I would like to explore, the first idea is based on a world where music and singing is lost to time, the main character would find a bunker filled with long-lost instruments and notes on how to restore and play them. They then spend months or maybe years following through the notes and eventually returns to their village, who had thought they had died or deserted them. The main character explains what had happened and plays some music, out of fear of the unknown the villagers chase them away. However, the main character, knowing the joys of music, returns every day and sits outside the village gates playing music until they get chased away again. Eventually one day they stop showing up, one day turns to one week and the villagers get worried and send a search party who finds the main character unconscious at the bottom of a small cliff. The villagers save them and nurse them back to health and apologise for what they did and ask to be taught music. The story would then end with the villagers restoring and even inventing their own instruments, learning to play and performing together, while the main character decides to go to other villages and cities to bring music back to the world.
The second idea I had was for a Dungeons and Dragons style campaign made in Twine, where the player can create their own character to play through the story with. It would start with the player reaching a new city and entering the local tavern where they see different people, the player then chooses who to approach. The game would contain multiple short storylines rather than one big one. One story I had in mind would be an arachnid hiding in human form and if the player spots that she isnt human, which would require a certain amount of the wisdom stat, they can start their quest. Her quest is to return to her village and save her race which have been enslaved and used for the precious silk their bodies produce, the quest for the player would be to get to the village, get to the slave owners and deciding how to deal with them. For example, the player would have the option to either pay them off to release all the arachnids, fight and defeat them or to sneak the arachnids away without the slave owners noticing.
Autocrit. (2018) Telling Stories: Are There Only 7 Types of Story in the World?. Available online: https://www.autocrit.com/blog/7-stories-world/ [Accessed 27/03/2022].
Hedonometer. (2016) Happiness of Stories. Available online: https://hedonometer.org/books/v1/ [Accessed 27/03/2022].
Reagan, A. J., Mitchell, L., Kiley, D., Danforth, C. M., Dodds, P. S. (2016) The emotional arcs of stories are dominated by six basic shapes. Burlington. Available online: https://arxiv.org/pdf/1606.07772v2.pdf [Accessed 27/03/2022].