Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 23

Thread: What makes a good story?

  1. #1

    Default What makes a good story?

    I've been watching West World. This show has so many plot holes that it could put sc2 to shame. Yet, I think the story is great (though, admittedly, some story lines are getting a bit stale...). This made me think a lot about what makes a good story. Why do I ignore the plot holes in this case but not in sc2? It's a bit hard to answer without bias because:

    1. west world is not over yet so I'm still "into it"
    and
    2. both are not delivered in a book format so visuals and interactions can compensate bad story-telling to deliver a good experience.

    With that said, ignoring these biases, if we imagined that both west world and sc2 were books, I'd still say that west world is objectively better. I'm working on making my own analysis of this but since everyone here is a great lore critic, I'd like to know what you guys think make a good story.

    (I vaguely remember a thread like this in the past but meh, forum is dead, lets start a new one)

  2. #2

    Default Re: What makes a good story?

    Yay! A chance to rant!

    Um, well, the thing about writing is that it is not one talent, but a combination of talents (communication, style, story generation, etc). Therefore, any member of the audience can choose to like one aspect of a story when another aspect is bad. For example, the characters in Star Trek are very iconic, so even when they're doing something stupid, like wandering around a haunted house or dealing with space hippies, it's still fun to watch them.

    That, and West World probably doesn't have a previous incarnation that it is currently ruining.
    "Seeing Fenix once more perplexes me. I feel sadness, when I should feel joy."
    - Artanis.

  3. #3

    Default Re: What makes a good story?

    Quote Originally Posted by Nissa View Post
    That, and West World probably doesn't have a previous incarnation that it is currently ruining.
    Au contraire, it's a '70s Michael Crichton property. Remakes all the way down!


    I haven't watched the new one— but the original isn't such a classic, so I doubt people will mind if it deviates.
    Last edited by Robear; 12-01-2016 at 04:04 PM.

  4. #4

    Default Re: What makes a good story?

    Well dang. Okay then, so West World doesn't have a rabid fanbase who linger in old forums long after the glory days have passed, nitpicking every detail.
    "Seeing Fenix once more perplexes me. I feel sadness, when I should feel joy."
    - Artanis.

  5. #5
    TheEconomist's Avatar Lord of Economics
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Posts
    6,895

    Default Re: What makes a good story?

    Why do I ignore the plot holes in this case but not in sc2
    Because the story was enjoyable to you. Just like suspension of disbelief, you can put up with more crap if you are enjoying the experience. SC1 and Brood War were not perfect as far as plot holes or story telling goes, but it was enjoyable, and it created an enjoyable experience, so you looked past the smaller issues.

    Even if SC2 had less plot holes, it would still be shit because all you would is a more internally consistent romance arc which isn't anything to get excited about anyways.



    Rest In Peace, Old Friend.

  6. #6

    Default Re: What makes a good story?

    Simply put, it's about using tropes in an elegant way such that they give the illusion of something happening "naturally" in that universe as opposed to being outwardly obvious author intrusion, which breaks immersion. That's all there is to it, really.
    Yes, that's right! That is indeed ME on the right.


    _______________________________________________

  7. #7

    Default Re: What makes a good story?

    Got some more time lots of blah blah blah follows:

    Kinda like eco said, having a good story it's at the core about being enjoyable to the reader(s) and like Nissa said it's about "liking" some aspects of the story(I'll get back to tura later). But I think these statements are a bit trivial. It basically describes what being a good story is but doesn't say how it is accomplished; how is it made enjoyable? How do you make it being liked? This is what should be asked. We want to find some high level algorithm/bullet points of how to make a good story and hopefully a good story for the highest percentage of readers.

    Obviously the answer starts and end with psychology. Creating entertainment is the art of manipulating the brain into enjoyment and so we must find what we are naturally programmed to respond positively to. Of course, everyone is different so there will always be nuances but we are still all made of the same core materials. Of interest here is dopamine, the reward center and etc. The more you understand how these materials work, the better you know how to program enjoyment.

    Now, I'm not an expert so I can't list all the known relevant facts and even if I could, it's not really a stable science so things are still changing. For example, the idea that dopamine is a pleasure regulator is strongly challenged by "recent" studies. With that said, I think we can still tell some items that are essential or at least seen as recurring themes in successful entertainment products(such as stories).

    The first thing that should jump to everyone should be novelty. We are biologically programmed to respond positively to finding it and we are programmed to seek it. Note that I use the term "novelty" broadly here. Novelty is a scale and can be used to define many things. For example, a story about a theme you never heard of is novelty but also, certain events that are not novel in themselves can be contextually novel. An unexpected death is novel but death itself is not. After-all, at its core, the act of creating new things is accomplished by combining things we already know. Does this mean that by throwing a lot of novelty into our literary product we can create a good story? To some extent, maybe, but there is another factor to consider.This factor is the amount of novelty.

    Though we seek enjoyment, it is known that people don't enjoy having a constant influx of pleasure stimuli. Knowing this, we can then infer that the same is true for novelty. The introduction of new elements needs to be paced. But what pace should we use? It is hard to say an exact figure but psychologists have shown us that random intervals maximize retention. We also know that incremental achievements eventually produce more pleasurable feelings and also help motivation(difficulty progression in a game for example). Could part of the novelty pacing strategy be to mix these 2 approaches? Maybe we could introduce elements of average novelty level at random intervals to recompense the reader but also have another coexisting loop that introduces elements of increasing novelty. It is no coincidence that most stories have smaller episodes(the random elements of average novelty) stuck in a grander plot(the incremental novelty). Unfortunately for this idea, we must note here that pacing itself could be evaluated through the lens of novelty. Someone that is used to seeing stories that buildup to a climax may be tired of this particular pacing. Our random pacing approach on the hand is indefatigable as it is impossible to discern the reward pattern. And so, in our goal of coming up with an algorithm that deliver a good story to as many people as possible, it might be better to avoid the grander plot idea. This of course depends on the length of the story. A short story might not have the luxury of having multiple incremental novel elements for example while a long story could feel dull if it doesn't increase the novelty stakes.

    I spoke a lot about novelty so far, but is there anything else? We have to remember that we try here to avoid things that are specifics to a person or a group of persons. We want something that can be liked by as many as possible. In that sense, there are multiple other ways to program enjoyment to specific people but it would be a nightmare to analyze the different variables. Furthermore, even though we have said that novelty is something that everyone seek, it must be understood that everyone seek a different amount of novelty and usually in different contexts. For example, Tura claims that a good story must seamlessly introduce tropes. I disagree with that statement because many popular stories over the ages have succeeded without this. Myths are a prime example. They were liked and considered good stories in these times but only because it was still novel to be "inorganic" in plot delivery. This is part of the reason you can like a story as a child but find it weak as you grow older and the novelty wears off. Of course, if you truly had a good experience with that story, it will stay good thanks to nostalgia.

    Anyways, I'll stop here for now. Will think more on it later.

    tl;dr:
    -To analyze what a good story is, you need to start with how we decide what is good; aka the brain
    -The main non-essential thing that we universally enjoy and seek is novelty so good stories need to be novels
    -Novelty must be used at random intervals and/or through an incremental way
    -Will try to find things other than novelty; also need to think about the fact that we don't all seek the same amount of novelty.

  8. #8
    DonnyZeDoof's Avatar Junior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Posts
    131

    Default Re: What makes a good story?

    IMO a good fictional story = fills in a void in your life experience.



    Also I haven't watched Westworld but I have a request for anyone that has:

    You know Halley Gross, one of the writers for Westworld, is going to be co-writing The Last of Us Part 2. Halley Gross co-write Episode 6 and 7 of Westworld. How good were those episodes from a writing standpoint?

  9. #9

    Default Re: What makes a good story?

    Quote Originally Posted by sandwich_bird View Post
    Will try to find things other than novelty; also need to think about the fact that we don't all seek the same amount of novelty.
    This. It kinda depends on what you deem as "good" really. My definition didn't necessarily regard enjoyment for a story to be classified as good, since that just boils down to subjective taste in the end. The experience of novelty differs greatly between individuals too, so it can't really be used realiably as a yardstick to say that a story is "good". My definition of "good" is about how effective the story is in delivering its message (stories aren't stories if they don't have some purpose behind them afterall).

    Quote Originally Posted by sandwich_bird View Post
    For example, Tura claims that a good story must seamlessly introduce tropes. I disagree with that statement because many popular stories over the ages have succeeded without this. Myths are a prime example. They were liked and considered good stories in these times but only because it was still novel to be "inorganic" in plot delivery. This is part of the reason you can like a story as a child but find it weak as you grow older and the novelty wears off. Of course, if you truly had a good experience with that story, it will stay good thanks to nostalgia.
    Tropes are nothing more but tools/figurative language (they are not inherently bad or good though the term has been commonly associated with negative connotations like recurring themes, cliches and artifice) and have been used since the first story ever told. Stories are really just a conceited way for one to pass information to another in a more palatable way. Novelty has nothing do with it. For example, I like the novelty within the Overmind campaign in Sc1 and am a Zerg fan largely because of it, but I will never say that it's "technically" a "good" story since it's actually the worst of the 3 campaigns in Sc1 in terms of storytelling. I've never thought differently.
    Yes, that's right! That is indeed ME on the right.


    _______________________________________________

  10. #10

    Default Re: What makes a good story?

    Quote Originally Posted by DonnyZeDoof View Post
    IMO a good fictional story = fills in a void in your life experience.



    Also I haven't watched Westworld but I have a request for anyone that has:

    You know Halley Gross, one of the writers for Westworld, is going to be co-writing The Last of Us Part 2. Halley Gross co-write Episode 6 and 7 of Westworld. How good were those episodes from a writing standpoint?
    Both episodes were pretty good from a writing standpoint but that's a broad statement. I mean, if you're not the show's lead writer then I'm assuming you already have the big story points given to you and all you do is mostly write dialogues right? You must have some more liberty I guess but, to come back to ep 6-7, the thing is that they drop you a major revelation during that time frame and if you didn't came up with the idea of that revelation and your job was just to present that revelation well... it's pretty hard to mess up that delivery because the reveal is pretty good in itself.

    So yeah... ep 6-7 were good, dialogues were good, but I wouldn't take it as testament of that writer's ability

    This. It kinda depends on what you deem as "good" really. My definition didn't necessarily regard enjoyment for a story to be classified as good, since that just boils down to subjective taste in the end. The experience of novelty differs greatly between individuals too, so it can't really be used realiably as a yardstick to say that a story is "good". My definition of "good" is about how effective the story is in delivering its message (stories aren't stories if they don't have some purpose behind them afterall).
    Yeah, I definitely should have started with a definition of "good". Sometimes, you just want to avoid semantics but they always come back to haunt you I guess for the purpose of this discussion, a good story can be defined in the following way (for now, might revise it later):

    A story that is remembered to have given an overall pleasurable feeling to the majority of those who have experienced its entirety. Also, it is a story where the majority of those who experience it want to invest into "seeing it through"(watching the full movie, reading the full book) once they are past at least 25% of it's entirety. Note here that I do not talk about motivating people to go on an try to experience the story. So, in other words, if I force a random person to experience the beginning of a story, that person must be likely to experience the rest of the story and also likely to remember the overall experience as a pleasurable one.

    With this said, we come back to the problem that enjoyment appears to be subjective. I think this statement is true but only to some extent. I like the color blue so if I'm presented a blue object then I am "likely" to like it. Given this, if I know what >50% of the population like then I can just make a story about this and satisfy the above definition of good. This would only work in a segment of time though and is kinda trivial. What's more interesting instead is that the "things" that made me like the color blue(to come back to the first example) are also things that can make someone else like the color blue. And so,w hat I'm proposing is that:

    Given hypothetical mentally stable person X and person Y that have random average genetic differences between each other, there exists a process Z that, when applied, can be used to make both person X and Y like "thing" W(thing can be any kind of concepts; a color, a story, whatever) and this is despite personality variations between X and Y.

    The idea is for the "thing" to be a story of course and the process to be the experience of the story (because yes, I'm sure that through extreme control you can make anyone like anything and that is beside the point). I'm not sure if it is really possible but I think it might be. This is what I will be looking around for.

    For example, I like the novelty within the Overmind campaign in Sc1 and am a Zerg fan largely because of it, but I will never say that it's "technically" a "good" story since it's actually the worst of the 3 campaigns in Sc1 in terms of storytelling. I've never thought differently.
    Fair point; so what you are saying is that you enjoyed it but thought it was bad at delivering it's message?

Similar Threads

  1. What makes an intelligent story/sci-fi?
    By Gradius in forum StarCraft Discussion
    Replies: 14
    Last Post: 01-17-2013, 04:36 AM
  2. I knew that editor will be good, but THIS GOOD...
    By RamiZ in forum StarCraft Discussion
    Replies: 31
    Last Post: 07-02-2010, 06:26 AM
  3. Replies: 20
    Last Post: 04-07-2010, 04:34 PM
  4. Viking - What makes this unit good // bad?
    By Albuterol in forum StarCraft Discussion
    Replies: 30
    Last Post: 04-03-2010, 11:00 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •