The Definition of a Tale

Arguing that I am debating semantics is not only an unsophisticated representation of my position (a strawman), but it fails to address the issue I am raising.

I completely understand if others don’t mind that we are referred to as the “Scientologists of story theory.” But, I would like to see us lose that reputation over time. And, when these discussions focus on who is projecting instead of clarifying the understanding of things, it keep us there.

Describing the impact of a Tale on the audience doesn’t clarify what it is and how to identify it.

Here is the website definition of a Tale:

“A tale describes a problem and the attempt to solve it, ultimately leading to success or failure in the attempt.”

How is this different from a single isolated throughline?

Here is a quote from Melanie:

“Throughlines then, are any elements of a story that have their own beginnings, middles, and ends. For example, every character’s growth has its own throughline. Typically, this is referred to as a character arc, especially when in reference to the main character. But an “arc” has nothing to do with the growth of a character. Rather, each character’s emotional journey is a personal tale that describe his or her feelings at the beginning of the story, at every key juncture, and at the final reckoning.“

If I’m wrong, please help me since I got this definition originally from mentorship.

I am intereseted in visual representations of a Tale so we can be better at communicating how they feel. Does anyone have access to that?

But, more importantly, what is it? — since it is not well defined as the absence of a storyform.

It was quite clear that Dr. Strangelove was a Tale because it was a single Throughline and there were no other throughlines despite our attempts to find them. That was how we proved it was a Tale.

Is Moonlight a Tale? We gave it a Storyform even though it is missing 25% of the signposts.

Doubt has a Storyform…at first it was called a Tale. Oops.

How is Fight Club a Tale? It is listed as one. But, it seems like a GAS to me as I can ID the throughlines.

It seems to me that not all broken stories are tales. What an I missing? And it begs the question —what is a broken Tale?

Moved this since it seems you’d rather not address anything about Infinity War in your responses.

I’m not sure what you’re referring to—this hasn’t been my experience dealing with writers, directors, and producers. You might be projecting your own experiences onto the “struggle” of someone who works with Dramatica for a living.

When a story fails to tell a functioning argument, people tend to project their own interpretations of life experiences into what they see in an effort to fill in the blanks. I gave you a concrete example where you imagined something about Thor that wasn’t in the film. That wasn’t meant to keep you anywhere, that was an attempt to give you an example of someone adding to a narrative something that wasn’t there.

This works in Moonlight because it’s actually part of the experience intended by the Authors. They purposefully left it open what he did in those intervening years. The Marvel guys didn’t leave it open to interpretation why Thor missed his head so that the Audience could fill in a part of their personal experience. They’re not that kind of Author.

Your imagined reason for Thor’s error is awesome, and I would’ve loved it if there was some greater meaning to it like that, but there wasn’t—he just missed.

A Throughline is a perspective. A Tale is a bunch of events that happen. Two totally different things.

I assume you’re referring to your Mentorship with me. That would be a misunderstanding on your part—I would never refer to a Tale as a single Throughline.

I have a great visualization that Chris made that I can upload tomorrow. It should help clear things up.

We did the same thing with Infinity War. You should read the whole thread.

No, Moonlight is not a Tale. It’s really clear that the Authors purposefully left that part out as part of the experience of that story. The missing parts of Infinity War do not compare.

I’m sure this is meant to be a dig at me. In my original analysis of Doubt—done solely by me—I said there wasn’t a storyform. No one said anything about it or challenged me on it for seven years.

Later, I corrected my mistake—having to prove that to others, and engaging their responses, helped make that a reality.

The analysis of Infinity War was not done in isolation.

The original analysis of Fight Club was scheduled for Sept. 11, 2001. I’m pretty sure the events of that day had something to do with the analysis of it as an incomplete story.

We’ve talked several times about trying it again and I would be happy to see that—I agree that it feels as if it has a complete storyform.

Asking what is a broken Tale is like asking what is a broken golf swing—it’s meaningless.

Jim, I’m wondering, are there not at least three four kinds of stories? (added a forth, had to try for a quad)

  • Complete story (aka Grand Argument Story)
  • “good Tale” (? not sure on the name?) – like short story or short film that isn’t a full GAS but doesn’t try to be. It makes an meaningful argument, but with a smaller scope – not hitting all the bases, but hitting all the ones it tries to hit.
  • “broken Tale” (? name?) – tries to make an argument but fails to include the necessary elements. e.g. tries to be a GAS but doesn’t include all throughlines. Or, a short that only includes 3 elements out of a quad.
  • No argument. This would be like reality TV show footage prior to the producers trying to make some narrative out of it.

(I also think there are subclasses of Complete story. One is basically complete but maybe doesn’t hit every single story point due to time limitations etc. but it hits enough that the argument is clear. Best epitomized by 90 minute Disney films. Another subclass would be like Moonlight, where things are left out with meaningful intention.)

Don’t for get…

Kishōtenketsu Plot without Conflict

Maybe that can be your fourth.

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I never considered this “conflict-less” form of plot. I remember recently watching Soderbergh’s Che with Benicio del Toro. The movie has conflict but doesn’t really use as anything more than exposition and scenery. Nonetheless there were these little jabs in the scenes. One that stood out was near the end where Camilo Cienfuegos and Che Guevara were enjoying their seize of a city. The film doesn’t really take on a direct controversy about the communist themes neither but its there cause its a bunch of communist rebels in a story we all know. At the end of their commiserating Camilo needs to light his cigar. Che offers his lighter and Camilo calls out, “that’s my lighter.” I don’t know if I am reading into it but it was ironic to see those espousing a system where ownership will be effectively impossible, human kind on a personal level were still thinking in capitalistic terms.