Basic storytelling

Posted on Jan 30, 2023

Basic storytelling has a very simple, yet compelling design – see here:

  1. A character is in a zone of comfort,
  2. But they want something.
  3. They enter an unfamiliar situation,
  4. Adapt to it,
  5. Get what they wanted,
  6. Pay a heavy price for it,
  7. Then return to their familiar situation,
  8. Having changed.

I am not that comfortable with this as the basic arc of life, it involves way too much luck, and can only work in a stable world where you can try and fail as many times as you like. I wonder if there is a book of stories (something like Eureka) where this arc is followed, but the hero fails miserably along the path. E.g. you can fail at point 4, failing to adapt to an unfamiliar situation. Point 5 is a nice place to fail as well, you adapt but you get nothing.

Games that try to capture the comedic effects of failure and (maybe) over-ambition include Fiasco, and movies include Fargo.

The excellent TVTropes has more: