Comic Talk and General Discussion *

What are your fave parts of a story?
Ozoneocean at 6:32AM, May 11, 2016
posts: 28,638
joined: 1-2-2004
I've been watching a LOT of different anime series all the way through while I draw, because they're reliable to stream. And in doing so I've developed some ideas about what I like best about stories and which kinds of stories work better (to me).

1. The number one trait is character. In a short series what makes me want to follow it are interesting and unique characters who I care about, or want to know more about or who I find fascinating in some way. I think that carries through to novels and comics. Short stories are another thing entirely which I won't even touch on here.

2. Number two trait is discovery; the things you learn about the world with the characters; learning about different aspects of the characters; uncovering or solving mysteries etc. All that juicy stuff you can sink your mental teeth into.
NOT being “told” about things though- descriptions and lectures about scenery or how magic works in a world (for example), is as boring as cow crap! But if a character is LEARNING about magic and experimenting then THAT is super interesting!

3. Number three is progress. This is related to discovery but it's not the same thing- Say a character travels through a world, progressing towards a specific goal; you root for them and want them to succeed. It's fun to watch them improve, get closer to their goal, build and make things and improve upon them, travel and pick up new people to help them etc.

THOSE are the things that make following a story enjoyable to me. I'm sure there are more but that's what I've been think about lately.
Too many time I think people dismiss this stuff as “the middle bit” and not put enough effort into it, when this stuff is the actual enjoyable part of the story!

“Conflict” is neither here no there. Conflict is just a bare framework to craft a story around. You have it to motivate your characters and give them something to do, but it's bloody boring in of itself when that's all there IS to a story. May as well watch a sports match or a war documentary…
When stories have all those three points above and they do them well it can be a real winner. But too much focus on conflict at the expense of those traits and they fail.
Ironscarf at 3:19PM, May 11, 2016
posts: 1,889
joined: 9-9-2008
Your thesis strikes a chord and immediately made me recall one of my favourite movies, The Apartment. Plenty of interwoven conflicts are set up in this screenplay - tragic ones such as Miss Kubelik's doomed love for philandering boss Sheldrake, or hilarious ones such as Calvin Baxter's neighbours believing he's a playboy, when in fact he's a sap who lets his bosses use his apartment for their extra marital affairs at night to help keep his career on track.

These story threads are finely wrought, but without Billy Wilder's fab dialogue and the superb performances, particularly of Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine, the whole thing would just be a technical exercise. Instead, watching these damaged characters find their way to salvation is a joy, because they're real people you can believe in, or fall in love with in spite of, or because of their flaws. So my fave parts are the characters too, or the relationships between them, which is conflict, but well written characters come first.
last edited on May 11, 2016 3:20PM
kyupol at 4:11PM, May 11, 2016
posts: 3,730
joined: 1-12-2006
The epic final battle where it all comes down…
bravo1102 at 5:05PM, May 11, 2016
posts: 6,012
joined: 1-21-2008
Witty dialogue, believable plot twists and catharsis .

I love the moment when a character figures it all out in a flash of insight, it tears him/her apart in a great outflow of emotion, and he/she resolves to fix it. If it works. I mean there are places where it falls flat on its face. But for me that is at least worth a laugh.
Ozoneocean at 9:19PM, May 11, 2016
posts: 28,638
joined: 1-2-2004
I'm not a fan of catharsis or epic battles- those are climatic resolutions to conflict, you set that up as a structural arc for your characters to do stuff in between and work towards, and it's just formulaic- you're being led to an expected point that you know is coming. You see a few shows/movies/read a few books and those cease to be significant because you start to see them as the generic plot devices they are.

You could think of them as “the icing on the cake” (or “frosting” to some in the US).
Icing is great and sweet and you start by thinking it's the best part of the cake… but after a while you realise that most icing is pretty much the same no matter what cake it's on, and the only time it really IS the best thing about the cake is when the cake itself is crap. ^_^

That's just my own take on this an in no way invalidates yours. We all have different favourite parts.

I would say though that out of the movies and books that I'll rewatch or re-read for enjoyment- I will never do that for the climax. Those 3 points I mentioned have to be strong to warrant a total rewatch or re-read, climaxes never have that hold on you.


I'll have to check out The Apartment Scarf! :)

bravo1102 at 1:51AM, May 12, 2016
posts: 6,012
joined: 1-21-2008
I used to act. So I see cathartic moments from that point of view. Chew a little scenery and evoke some passion. The greatest build-up and most fantastic characters can be let down by a climax that fizzles and what doesn't happen to wrap up a story.

Like George Peppard used to say at the conclusion of every episode of the A-team, “I love it when a plan comes together. ” I love the synthesis of all the elements of a piece, all the parts coming together.

I like good frosting, but good frosting doesn't make a good cake. You can't expect a pile of cream to save a crappy piece of pie either. The best pipe in the world won't make stink weed taste like fine tobacco.
last edited on May 12, 2016 1:53AM
Ozoneocean at 5:29AM, May 12, 2016
posts: 28,638
joined: 1-2-2004
The icing analogy was to describe climaxes, cathartic or otherwise. :)
They're an endpoint, not the meat of a story, hence the analogy.
KimLuster at 10:51AM, May 12, 2016
posts: 795
joined: 5-15-2012
I love the moments when puffed-up bullies, pompous and petty jerkwads, and hateful biatches get their comeuppances!! Especially if they've been monologuing spitefully and dismissively! And extra especially if their ‘just deserts’ comes in the form of a curbstomp or other embarrassing exhibition, and the ‘giver of said retribution’ has a crowning moment of awesome! I always feel sorta cheated if one of these types doesn't ‘get his’ or if he somehow goes out in a way feels like an escape (like if the bully dies accidentally without ever being put in his place).

One would be tend to think maybe I have a sense of justice that always feels like it's cheated in the real world and I want to see it vicariously in fantasy! Justice prevail awesomely…!!! But… then why do I also love seeing Darth Vader choke those whom he ‘finds their lack of faith disturbing’?! It doesn't have to be ‘the hero’ that necessarily delivers the beatdown!! Villains often deliver it even better!! Hannibal Lector handed it out a few times to some annoying dweebs!!

Those moments… Ahhhh!!
Bruno Harm at 11:50AM, May 12, 2016
posts: 122
joined: 10-18-2015
My favorite part of a story is the Dialogue. The really great lines that you can take with you. That sometimes weave themselves into your life far outside of the story. I don't typically re-watch movies very often, but when I do, It's the really “Quotable” ones.

Another thing I like, and I may be alone on this. those inspirational speeches. those moments of righteousness, when the protagonist is everything you wish people would be. Think mr. Smith goes to Washington. or any movie starring Sean Austin. I think there's a lot of people that find this too unrealistic, and there's the whole rise of the anti-hero, but I'm still a fan of the good ol' fashioned heart swell.
usedbooks at 12:41PM, May 12, 2016
posts: 3,353
joined: 2-24-2007
I'm all about characters, especially development or revelation. I love/hate the moment a good guy reveals he's a traitor and then ADORE the moment he turns back to the good side (better still if it's a long con and he was good all along). I love bad guys who turn on other bad guys. I love everymen who become heroes. I particularly love a women/man who plays everyone and runs off with the score (if she's devious, I love to see her beaten at her own game – or matched at it). I root for sidekicks to become central heroes and henchmen to either take power from their boss or turn hero against him.

The only thing I don't care for in all of it is death. Sacrifice is good but not terminal sacrifice, and I'm rarely satisfied with dead villains. It's too easy and cheap. I want to see a villain stripped of power or humiliated or maybe a charismatic one conceding defeat and moving on.

I know it's not part of “a story,” but I also love snappy dialogue in a comedy. Clue and Hello Dolly are probably my favorite examples.
bravo1102 at 4:28PM, May 12, 2016
posts: 6,012
joined: 1-21-2008
ozoneocean wrote:
The icing analogy was to describe climaxes, cathartic or otherwise. :)
They're an endpoint, not the meat of a story, hence the analogy.

I know I was agreeing with you. Lots of endless action (a pile of cream in my analogy) won't make up for a bad story (think tough crust and tasteless filling)
Think the endless climactic action sequences in any number of recent movies. Not a good conclusion. Too much frosting on a bad cake.
Konspiracy at 11:41AM, May 22, 2016
posts: 8
joined: 4-8-2016
I recently saw a horrible, memorable movie in which Jack Black played my favorite childhood author. “A story is made of three elements - the beginning, the middle, and the twist!”

I liked that. With a curious, new wordly beginning, a meaty and fulled-to-the-brim middle containing lots of love and conflict, and a big BANG right in the climax of the story… that truly makes a masterpiece. The ending will just follow along with the rest.

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