Impossible storyforms

Super excited about @jhull’s announced retelling of A Christmas Carol. If there’s two stories I’ll never get tired of, it’s The Lord of the Rings and A Christmas Carol. But I’m curious what makes a particular storyform impossible. A Christmas Carol might be a bit heavy handed in its presentation, but still works as a story, so it doesn’t seem to be that the human mind just doesn’t see that form as valid. So what, other than just the math, would prevent a proper story having an IC go from progress to past to present to future?

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After watching the cartoon version with Jim Carrey today it occurs to me that a chronological exploration of Scrooge’s life isnt particularly dramatic. It just follows the same progression he’s already lived through and lets him know he’ll die unloved and alone-something he probably already knows and expects even if he doesn’t like it. No real revelation there.

But, if you start with Future and work backwards (I think that was what Jim’s podcast said) then the spirits start out declaring that Scrooge will die friendless and alone-a much more startling declaration without the context-and then explains to Scrooge why he’ll die that way leaving him to contemplate whether he wants that ending. that seems much more dramatic and effective.

That still doesn’t explain why that path doesn’t work from a Dramatica point, though. It only explains it for this story. But that feels like a start.

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I had the same thought while listening to the new signpost order on the podcast, that starting at the end and moving backward to the explanation would be far more interesting for the Scrooge story.

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Is it possible that the successful versions of A Christmas Carol (the better film(s), maybe Dickens’ book) might have the IC signposts taking a different order than what the ghosts were “named”?

For example, IC Signposts of Present -> Past -> Progress -> Future appears to be allowed for a Success/Good story. Perhaps Jacob Marley impacted Scrooge more through present situation and circumstances while the ghost of Christmas Present actually impacted him through Progress. (Just throwing that out there; I can’t remember the story well enough to know if that could fit.)

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I considered that too. The book begins, “Marley was dead to begin with” so that when Scroge sees him, he knows it’s a ghost, I guess. So I could see his influence being of the present (presently dead, and yet there is front of Scrooge, fettered with chains) even though his message is progress. I’m less sure of how that would play out with GOC Present

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I believe I found the answer to this. I don’t have access to the article I found it in anymore, but basically the idea is that the forms currently available all work toward proving the message of the story because of how the current model is K-based. Other Sign Post orders that aren’t currently possible in the software are still valid for telling stories, they just don’t do the best job of proving the message and may even muddy it. Instead of proving the message, other Sign Post orders may serve a more, I guess a more emotional purpose or create different feelings or something. So there ya go. Not a deep answer, but an answer all the same.

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I was thinking about this and just thought of how the Ghost of Christmas Present could be challenging Scrooge’s perspective through Progress: the Ghost is quickly aging!


Interesting! This reminds me of the idea of Propaganda, where the structure is left incomplete (like in Moonlight), or is broken (like Get Out) in order to create an intense feeling for the audience and to make them fill in the blanks, at the risk of losing them because the message isn’t as clear.

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Whoa! That’s pretty cool.

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It’s almost time for another read through. But it strikes me at the moment that while, yes, Marley was there to tell Scrooge there would be three ghosts, that doesn’t really influence him in any way.

“Oh? Three ghosts I must progress through? Then I’d better start looking at this as an external problem!”
That doesn’t make sense. But there is something else going on with Marley that would impact him.

“Oh? You’ve got yards and yards of heavy chains you have to carry around? And my chains are currently seven years longer than yours? And there’s a whole world of tormented spirits present right outside my window that would give anything if only they could go back and give up their attitudes to deal with others situations? Maybe i’d better start looking at this as an external problem!” That makes a lot more sense! Ill have to see if feels like it bears out during this years reading.

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