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Ottservia

is a story's themes or plot structure more important?

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So I've been thinking about fates's story a lot recently and I've recently begun to replay of it and one thing that has stuck out to me is how in terms of overall plot structure it's a little bit of a mess but then when you look at certain plot points from a thematic standpoint it makes perfect sense. Take chapter 15 of conquest for example. Now the more I think about it the more I begin to realize fates is a story about "seeking the truth" and conquest in particular plays with the idea of finding the truth through lies. It happens a lot through most of the story where lies and deception are used to help further the plot. Chapter 15 is really weird in this regard because from a plot perspective it makes absolutely zero sense why Azura would not tell Corrin everything about Anankos and Valla right then and there but if you wanna look at it from a thematic angle, one could make the argument that Azura intentionally withheld that information and Lied to Corrin to feed them nuggets of the truth but not the entire truth because they chose to side Nohr one of the "incorrect paths" that will not lead to the truth therefore they cannot be rewarded narratively for that decision so Azura only gives them a kernel of the truth. I guess what I'm saying here is that thematically hit works but from the perspective of the overall plot structure it's a bit messy. But which one is more important? What do you all think?

Edited by Ottservia

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Both matter, but I would say having a good story, and maybe a boring theme, is still better than having a bad story with a interesting theme.

Edited by Rose482

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In general, both are important, but it depends on the kind of story being told. Aesops and Fairy Tales, for instance, can get away with having some nonsensical plot structures because the lesson is the most important part of the story. Meanwhile, simpler videogames can have some pretty strange or nonexistent themes, but the progression to get from the staring area to the end of the alien base or the dark lords castle can intrigue players enough that they invest time and effort into completing the game. Movies, books, TV shows, and some types of videogames generally have to balance the two, since without a theme the story is shallow, and without structure it will be boring and/or frustrating for the audience.

Execution is also important. A story can provide excellent and thoughtful lessons, but bad pacing, laughable dialogue, and forced moments can make the experience of getting to those lessons frustrating, boring, or entertaining for the wrong reasons. Meanwhile, even a story with excellent twists, strong characters, and natural progression can end up having its theme be summed up in a single sentence ("Friendship is Important", "Revenge is Empty", "Stealing, Lying, Murder, Etc. is Wrong," take your pick), or even do more harm than good by presenting a harmful and dangerous Aesop in an intriguing fashion. A good story handles both aspects well, and tries to weave the two together when it can.

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Fates is a bit of a trainwreck when I think about it.

Corrin gets blamed for Mikoto's death, hooded swordsmaster is never seen again and is only explained in Revelation, how children were handled, how Hoshido almost lost in Birthright...

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30 minutes ago, Hawkwing said:

Meanwhile, even a story with excellent twists, strong characters, and natural progression can end up having its theme be summed up in a single sentence ("Friendship is Important", "Revenge is Empty", "Stealing, Lying, Murder, Etc. is Wrong," take your pick),

The thing about that though is that most if not all narrative themes can be summarized in a single sentence. “Themes” are inherently simple. Persona 4, for example tackles the exact same themes as fates(finding the truth) which can be summarized in a single sentence but what makes it complex or deep are all the ways it explores that theme. Y’know all the little nuances that pile on and on and add layers upon layers to the overall narrative until it all culminates into a cohesive whole. Everything within that narrative all relates to that core idea from its characters, villains, plot points, world, and even gameplay mechanics to a degree. Simple as it may sound on the surface, you’d be surprised by the sheer amount of ways even a “theme” as simple as “the power of friendship” can be explored within a single story. Hell the "themes" of some of the most deep and complex can summarized in a single word let alone sentence. Persona 5 may not be a single word but you can summarize that game's themes and ideas in exactly two words "societal reform". So I don't think that's it. I will agree that execution is most important of all but when you get right down to it does a minor inconsistency with the plot really matter in the grand scheme of the overall themes and ideas that the narrative is opt to explore. 

I will always stand by the mantra that you should always critique a story for what it wants to be not for you think it should be like if a story is about "finding the truth" and every plot point is in service to that idea without contradicting itself then there shouldn't really be much of an issue if you ask me. I mean Garon is often criticized as being a garbage villain which to be fair he kind of is with very lackluster motives and backstory and has very little impact on the story as a whole but when you think about it within the greater context of the story's overall theme of "finding the truth" perhaps that was intentional. Garon in this story is supposed to be a red herring. Someone who seems like the true bad guy but isn't so in a way him being an unsatisfying villain actually adds to the overall themes and nuances of the story. Like he's supposed to be a shitty villain because he's not the true villain thereby when you do beat him you're supposed to feel unsatisfied that's kind of the idea. His defeat should not feel rewarding from a narrative standpoint and it isn't so in that sense I would ironically consider him a good villain because he fulfills his role in the story well. 

I guess my main question here is how big of plot hole/contrivance are you willing to overlook for the sake of a narrative exploring it's own themes and ideas?

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Speaking from a writer's perspective, I'd say it all depends on a third outside factor: how seriously the plot takes itself or how the audience should receive the plot.

If, say, you're writing a child's story, your plot structure can vary wildly but your theme should be rather strong and apparent as that's what children expect and can understand. However, for more mature audiences you need a coherent plot structure more than anything as I see it, because for the most part a mature audience can already create their own theme for your plot if they really want to but if there are plot holes and such they will pull your story apart, much like Fates. That's not to say that a good theme isn't needed at all though, cause if there's no theme at all then you're probably just writing nonsense at that point or your story will fall limp. Thinking of it as a graph, a good theme can raise the story's baseline enjoyment up while a coherent plot can raise the total enjoyment of the story up even more.

But that's just my way of thinking of it.

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3 minutes ago, Ottservia said:

Garon in this story is supposed to be a red herring. Someone who seems like the true bad guy but isn't so in a way him being an unsatisfying villain actually adds to the overall themes and nuances of the story. Like he's supposed to be a shitty villain because he's not the true villain thereby when you do beat him you're supposed to feel unsatisfied that's kind of the idea. His defeat should not feel rewarding from a narrative standpoint and it isn't so in that sense I would ironically consider him a good villain because he fulfills his role in the story well. 

The Hoshido story does seem to follow the scenario you're describing. Garon dies after some cryptic words and Corrin is left confused and without much closure on the matter. That said the villain that's pulling the strings from the shadows is hardly any better than Garon himself. 

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Yada yada both are important, but the answer is themes.

Stories should teach us about reality. What's the point of a well done story without a good lesson? It might be technically impressive, but it's not enriching to the reader.

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5 hours ago, Etrurian emperor said:

The Hoshido story does seem to follow the scenario you're describing. Garon dies after some cryptic words and Corrin is left confused and without much closure on the matter. That said the villain that's pulling the strings from the shadows is hardly any better than Garon himself. 

The idea is further expanded on in conquest where you learn that the thing you’ve been fighting this whole time isn’t actually the real Garon but in truth was nothing more than a facade. Some kind of malicious force using whatever was left of garon’s body as a skin puppet to deceive everyone into embarking on this terrible war. Though the ending is still unsatisfactory because well you’re still left with the question of “what exactly was that malicious force? And what does it want?” You learn a little more about the “truth” but not the whole truth leaving you with a false peace and a dead truth(i.e Azura). You still chose the “incorrect path” so once again you are not rewarded by the narrative. 

That’s a fair enough assessment Anankos is a weird entity in all this in that I can’t seem to fully comprehend how well he fits into this theme quite yet. His title of “the silent dragon” though is a decent indicator on where to start.

I’ll have to do a full analysis of this story when I’m finished with this current playthrough.

Edited by Ottservia

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Themes are completely unreleated to the quality of a story, they just tell you whatever you are interested in the story or not. Execution is what makes or break any single story. 

For example, Yotsuba themes amount to "Life is beautiful, enjoy it" and yet i consider it one of the best manga, while something like Elfen Lied or Mirai Nikki tries to be far more existentialist and utterly fail at it. But it's not even just  about failing the execution of the themes themselves. Sword Art Online does indeed criticize tecnology and the impact of it on out life, but those things are buried under the plot holes, and idiotic harem shenaningans. 

I am wary of the stories that try to explain you the meaning of life, because 95% of the times they crumble under their own ambition because it take a genius to really go that deep into human nature, and most people that think of themselves like a genius really aren't one. Not to say they shouldn't try, just that i am not hoing to give them extra points just for trying.

 

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What's more essential to survival, your heart or your lungs?

Just because one is important doesn't mean that the other isn't.  And the answer is "neither", because IMO it's execution.  A story can have great themes and a good plot, but if the execution is off, it becomes a mess (see: Final Fantasy Tactics - interesting theme, plot somewhat makes sense, but the execution is awful).

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Plot. It's hard to have well executed themes if the plot isn't doesn't have good execution I think. Themes without solid plot execution then would amount to nice ideas on paper that don't pan out.

Edited by Interdimensional Observer

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Plot structure by far. If a story has no structure to speak of it looses your attention because you can make nothing out of it on the most basic level. Themes are nice sure but you can still write entertaining stories that don't have any themes (or basically none). Many Marvel movies (not all) and Alien barely have any themes and are still great movies because the story is well planned out and presented in either an entertaining or disturbing way. The 1984 Dune movie however does have many themes yet the structure is so flawed that you aren't interested in the themes but rather the clock on your phone because you are so frustrated that you hope it will soon end.

Themes enhance a story, structure makes a story. (btw if a story has no structure then there no logic to it and the story can't have themes because there is no consistency. Of course there barely are stories that have no structure, just something I wanted to point out). 

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Plot/execution quality is necessary for a memorable worthwhile story, innovative/interesting ideas are not.  The best is when we get both.  However there are many well loved stories that have traditional themes that have been used many times, while can't think of any beloved stories with poor execution/plot structure.  

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40 minutes ago, Lewyn said:

Plot/execution quality is necessary for a memorable worthwhile story, innovative/interesting ideas are not.  The best is when we get both.  However there are many well loved stories that have traditional themes that have been used many times, while can't think of any beloved stories with poor execution/plot structure.  

2 hours ago, LJwalhout said:

Plot structure by far. If a story has no structure to speak of it looses your attention because you can make nothing out of it on the most basic level. Themes are nice sure but you can still write entertaining stories that don't have any themes (or basically none). Many Marvel movies (not all) and Alien barely have any themes and are still great movies because the story is well planned out and presented in either an entertaining or disturbing way. The 1984 Dune movie however does have many themes yet the structure is so flawed that you aren't interested in the themes but rather the clock on your phone because you are so frustrated that you hope it will soon end.

Themes enhance a story, structure makes a story. (btw if a story has no structure then there no logic to it and the story can't have themes because there is no consistency. Of course there barely are stories that have no structure, just something I wanted to point out). 

I have to say I disagree with this. Let me raise you both a question. What is a story if not just an expression of ideas that an author pulls from reality? think about it writing is a form of art which is a form of expression. Why does a painter paint? a dancer dance? why does a composer compose music? Why does an author write stories? Well it's to express themselves and their views on the world around them. Art in essence is just a conveyance of an artist's perception of reality. Drawing/painting is a way to capture the "beauty" of what they see and the emotions they feel when they see it and then to convey those emotions on a blank canvas. Every stroke of a brush/pen, every word typed/written, every note played, etc. is usually all in service to some central idea that an artist is trying to convey. If a painter wants to paint something that is dreary and melancholic then they'll likely use very dark colors like black or indigo to try and invoke that feeling in those who view it. Writing is the same way. If a writer wants to tell a story about how loneliness is the worse form of human suffering then they'll write scenarios and characters that pertain to that idea. They'll maybe write a character who has been rejected by society for things outside the realm of their control and how that experience has effected them and maybe they'll have another character who isn't "alone" in a literal sense but feels emotionally isolated. The narrative could explore the differences and similarities between these characters and how they overcome their loneliness by sharing their pain with one another because they both know what its like to be alone even if it's not entirely the same. It is those ideas and themes that make a story. Stories are built around these ideas and everything in the story is in service to conveying those ideas. In that sense stories are inherently contrived to fit the narrative themes the author wants to explore. So I guess my question is: What exactly is plot structure? does plot contrivance matter if a story is able to use it to convey it's overall theme? I mean I don't think plot contrivance is entirely irrelevant but I dunno it's weird.

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14 minutes ago, Ottservia said:

I have to say I disagree with this. Let me raise you both a question. What is a story if not just an expression of ideas that an author pulls from reality? think about it writing is a form of art which is a form of expression. Why does a painter paint? a dancer dance? why does a composer compose music? Why does an author write stories? Well it's to express themselves and their views on the world around them. Art in essence is just a conveyance of an artist's perception of reality. Drawing/painting is a way to capture the "beauty" of what they see and the emotions they feel when they see it and then to convey those emotions on a blank canvas. Every stroke of a brush/pen, every word typed/written, every note played, etc. is usually all in service to some central idea that an artist is trying to convey. If a painter wants to paint something that is dreary and melancholic then they'll likely use very dark colors like black or indigo to try and invoke that feeling in those who view it. Writing is the same way. If a writer wants to tell a story about how loneliness is the worse form of human suffering then they'll write scenarios and characters that pertain to that idea. They'll maybe write a character who has been rejected by society for things outside the realm of their control and how that experience has effected them and maybe they'll have another character who isn't "alone" in a literal sense but feels emotionally isolated. The narrative could explore the differences and similarities between these characters and how they overcome their loneliness by sharing their pain with one another because they both know what its like to be alone even if it's not entirely the same. It is those ideas and themes that make a story. Stories are built around these ideas and everything in the story is in service to conveying those ideas. In that sense stories are inherently contrived to fit the narrative themes the author wants to explore. So I guess my question is: What exactly is plot structure? does plot contrivance matter if a story is able to use it to convey it's overall theme? I mean I don't think plot contrivance is entirely irrelevant but I dunno it's weird.

Every story has a theme, but there is no such thing as a theme hierarchy. Themes are not important in the sense that a story should not get extra point fron having an important theme and should not be penalized for having a simple one. It's like saying that a portrait is inherently superior to a landscape.

And themes are not an excuse to bad writing. For example, "the power of friendship" can be made in an absymal fairy tail way, were people get unexplicable power boost because the love their friends very much every time the author doesn't know how to beat a villain, or it can be made trought the friends helping each other overcoming their problems and facing togheter obstacles that are impossible for any of them alone.  

99,9% of the time you don't need bullshit to devolop the thematics, doing so is just lazy writing. In the Fate example, they could have made Azura an outright liar, or make so she only know a few thing, or a different magic plot device that it was not that forced(for example they saw Slime King Garon by chance and kbow that Xander would not believe that whitout proof.)

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7 minutes ago, Ottservia said:

I have to say I disagree with this. Let me raise you both a question. What is a story if not just an expression of ideas that an author pulls from reality? think about it writing is a form of art which is a form of expression. Why does a painter paint? a dancer dance? why does a composer compose music? Why does an author write stories? Well it's to express themselves and their views on the world around them. Art in essence is just a conveyance of an artist's perception of reality. Drawing/painting is a way to capture the "beauty" of what they see and the emotions they feel when they see it and then to convey those emotions on a blank canvas. Every stroke of a brush/pen, every word typed/written, every note played, etc. is usually all in service to some central idea that an artist is trying to convey. If a painter wants to paint something that is dreary and melancholic then they'll likely use very dark colors like black or indigo to try and invoke that feeling in those who view it. Writing is the same way. If a writer wants to tell a story about how loneliness is the worse form of human suffering then they'll write scenarios and characters that pertain to that idea. They'll maybe write a character who has been rejected by society for things outside the realm of their control and how that experience has effected them and maybe they'll have another character who isn't "alone" in a literal sense but feels emotionally isolated. The narrative could explore the differences and similarities between these characters and how they overcome their loneliness by sharing their pain with one another because they both know what its like to be alone even if it's not entirely the same. It is those ideas and themes that make a story. Stories are built around these ideas and everything in the story is in service to conveying those ideas. In that sense stories are inherently contrived to fit the narrative themes the author wants to explore. So I guess my question is: What exactly is plot structure? does plot contrivance matter if a story is able to use it to convey it's overall theme? I mean I don't think plot contrivance is entirely irrelevant but I dunno it's weird.

Story structure is the way a story is built. Think something basic like a 3 act structure in movies or the 5 act structure used in theatre. without a structure in your story nothing would add up and it would likely be nonsense that only the author might understand. I would give an example but almost every story has a structure (even bad ones). The short story that you gave has a simple structure. 

I might also point out that there is a huge difference between a painting, music and stories. Paintings are visual and because of this don't need structure to work since our brain automatically can take something out of it because we associate colors, forms etc. with certain thing without us realizing it. I don't know much about music but that also needs a good structure. One can of course experiment but there are some sorts of music and sounds that are known to subconsiously cause a certain emotion. Stories however are narratives which are bound to words (which we have giving sentence  structures to understand because if we would use the words within another structure it would mean something else) and an internal logic. We also need to use our consious to understand them which equals paying attention. By giving them structure it becomes easier to understand and analyse for themes. The fact is that stories without a structure are often just thatway to claim that they have no structure. But it has no meaning because we can't understand what it is about and need to be explained what it means (if it even means anything). I already gave examples why stories that barely have themes are still great and stories with many themes don't work. 

I think what you forget in the part of an artist expressing what he thinks is that it is also read by other people who might think very differently then him and by giving it a clear structure it becomes understandable for those people. If you don't, you get something like the madness letters from Nietzsche http://www.thenietzschechannel.com/correspondence/eng/nlett-1889.htm

 

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3 minutes ago, LJwalhout said:

Story structure is the way a story is built. Think something basic like a 3 act structure in movies or the 5 act structure used in theatre. without a structure in your story nothing would add up and it would likely be nonsense that only the author might understand. I would give an example but almost every story has a structure (even bad ones). The short story that you gave has a simple structure. 

I might also point out that there is a huge difference between a painting, music and stories. Paintings are visual and because of this don't need structure to work since our brain automatically can take something out of it because we associate colors, forms etc. with certain thing without us realizing it. I don't know much about music but that also needs a good structure. One can of course experiment but there are some sorts of music and sounds that are known to subconsiously cause a certain emotion. Stories however are narratives which are bound to words (which we have giving sentence  structures to understand because if we would use the words within another structure it would mean something else) and an internal logic. We also need to use our consious to understand them which equals paying attention. By giving them structure it becomes easier to understand and analyse for themes. The fact is that stories without a structure are often just thatway to claim that they have no structure. But it has no meaning because we can't understand what it is about and need to be explained what it means (if it even means anything). I already gave examples why stories that barely have themes are still great and stories with many themes don't work. 

I think what you forget in the part of an artist expressing what he thinks is that it is also read by other people who might think very differently then him and by giving it a clear structure it becomes understandable for those people. If you don't, you get something like the madness letters from Nietzsche http://www.thenietzschechannel.com/correspondence/eng/nlett-1889.htm

 

you do have a point and I agree to an extent however my main point(which I probably should've made more clear) is that a story's structure is in service to it's themes not the other way around. Like let's say you have character whose arc centers around the idea of not understanding what true strength is and the narrative theme is that true strength comes from protecting something precious. One (relatively obvious) way is to contrive a scenario where he must fight and lose to someone who does understand that or make him lose to some random guy with his same ideals because of his own selfishness. In order for the theme to function you need to contrive a plot point for that to happen. does that make sense? Again stories are inherently contrived and unrealistic. Again I never said I didn't think plot holes/contrivances were entirely irrelevant but when you think about they don't matter too much in the grand scheme of things.

18 minutes ago, Flere210 said:

Every story has a theme, but there is no such thing as a theme hierarchy. Themes are not important in the sense that a story should not get extra point fron having an important theme and should not be penalized for having a simple one. It's like saying that a portrait is inherently superior to a landscape.

When did I ever say there was any kind of "theme hierarchy" I never said anything like that. In fact I said the opposite. Every single theme and idea explored within any given number of stories has some kind of value. It's just a matter of execution really. Now what makes "good execution"? is the bigger question here. You're just putting words in my mouth here. when did I ever say one "idea" is better than another? cause if if I've learned anything from my time as a writer is that there is no such thing as a bad idea in regards to story telling just bad execution.

23 minutes ago, Flere210 said:

And themes are not an excuse to bad writing. For example, "the power of friendship" can be made in an absymal fairy tail way, were people get unexplicable power boost because the love their friends very much every time the author doesn't know how to beat a villain, or it can be made trought the friends helping each other overcoming their problems and facing togheter obstacles that are impossible for any of them alone.  

99,9% of the time you don't need bullshit to devolop the thematics, doing so is just lazy writing. In the Fate example, they could have made Azura an outright liar, or make so she only know a few thing, or a different magic plot device that it was not that forced(for example they saw Slime King Garon by chance and kbow that Xander would not believe that whitout proof.)

Now here you bring a really good point which goes back to my question of "what is good execution?. I mean to bring up an example from persona 4(spoilers):

Spoiler

near the ending of the game after the third to last dungeon the character, Nanako, "dies"(it is confirmed by a doctor and everything) because of what namatame did(who at this point you believe to be the "true" culprit behind all the serial killings(he's nothing more than a red herring but we'll get to that). In your rage, you and your party go to visit Namatame in his hospital bed and you, the player, are presented with a choice. Get revenge by throwing Nametame into the TV effectively killing him or hear his story to try and find the "true" culprit. If you choose the former, Nanako stays dead and you get a bad ending because you acted rashly as rage blinded your eyes to the "real" truth so you sunk to the level of a killer. You are not rewarded by the narrative for that decision. If you choose the latter Nanako miraculously comes back to life for really no reason other than she just kind of did. However from a thematic standpoint it makes sense because you didn't "give up" on finding the "real truth" Nanako didn't give up on living. You made the right decision thereby you are rewarded by the narrative with a good ending.  So my question is: is that bad writing? or is it good writing because if fulfills a thematic purpose?

 

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1 minute ago, Ottservia said:

you do have a point and I agree to an extent however my main point(which I probably should've made more clear) is that a story's structure is in service to it's themes not the other way around. Like let's say you have character whose arc centers around the idea of not understanding what true strength is and the narrative theme is that true strength comes from protecting something precious. One (relatively obvious) way is to contrive a scenario where he must fight and lose to someone who does understand that or make him lose to some random guy with his same ideals because of his own selfishness. In order for the theme to function you need to contrive a plot point for that to happen. does that make sense? Again stories are inherently contrived and unrealistic. Again I never said I didn't think plot holes/contrivances were entirely irrelevant but when you think about they don't matter too much in the grand scheme of things.

Can't really argue with it. Story structure is kind of like the earth on which you plant your ideas. If you don't plant anything it stays the same and probably dull. But plants without ground die and are never seen by other people (here is my shitty comparison). 

A story of course has contrivances (most of the time) but that it more a part of the execution then the structure. The way a story is executed can make contrived things more reasonable. A fun comparison I often make is between Star Trek (2009) and the Transformer movies. both have plot contrivances but one is well paced and executed and one isn't (guess which one). a contrivance is more a part of the structure that you use and depending on how it's executed can do something or fall flat on his face. You could also try to have the story differently paced and have it be more real for it to happen.It's quite complicated to explain because we look very different at stories.

I also think that stories with minimalistic themes are something that shouldn't be frowned upon because these stories can more easily resonate with many different people. The original Star Wars trilogy doesn't have many deep themes but the movies (except VI) are so richely made that they appeal to many different people. Same with Harry Potter and the Marvel movies. Their themes are simplistic and easy to understand but well presented due to a good plot structure (despite contrivances) and being well presented. Something like Fates, The Last Jedi and Dune 1984 (yes, this is my most hated movie) have many themes that are interesting on the surface, but they are presented in a terrible way so nobody is interested in what they say except people who really want to get something out of it. 

I also wanted to point this out earlier but if the theme of Fates is finding the truth then 1. Why was the story marketed like a war story where you had to choose one side in which moral grey is an important theme? 2. Are all 3 endings presented in a positive way at the end (sure 2 of them are more tagic but they are still positive at the end) 3. Has none of the writers brought up the theme as an important theme? This might sound rough but I think you're overthinking an heavily flawed story and giving it a meaning because it rushed and the writers didn't care about the end product (although maybe I'm wrong and just a dump person who takes everything at face value).

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1 hour ago, Ottservia said:

When did I ever say there was any kind of "theme hierarchy" I never said anything like that. In fact I said the opposite. Every single theme and idea explored within any given number of stories has some kind of value. It's just a matter of execution really. Now what makes "good execution"? is the bigger question here. You're just putting words in my mouth here. when did I ever say one "idea" is better than another? cause if if I've learned anything from my time as a writer is that there is no such thing as a bad idea in regards to story telling just bad execution.

 

When people say that theme are important to value whatever a story is good or not, it' subtly implied that themes themselves may be good or bad. If all themes are equal then it's obvius that wich is the theme ia not important. A 10/10 story about Pizza would be as good as a 10/10 story about existentialism.

Structure has to serve the theme, but for this very reason the value of the story is 90% decided by the structure. Themes are "what" you are writing while srtructure is "how" you write it. So structure and execution are almost synonims. Hell, i am currently trying to write an Isekai right speciphically because i am so dissatisfacted with how they usually did it's basic themes (adventure, living in an alien enviroment and culture, the relationship between parallel realities and so on.)

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33 minutes ago, LJwalhout said:

This might sound rough but I think you're overthinking an heavily flawed story and giving it a meaning because it rushed and the writers didn't care about the end product (although maybe I'm wrong and just a dump person who takes everything at face value).

You could be right about underthinking it, but at the same time, I'm in a similar camp to you about fans more often overthinking it and creating meaning that isn't originally there.

Not that the author has sole rights to determine the meaning of a text/work, they don't. But claiming what authorial intent was, and "I see X Meaning in Story Y", are two wholly different things. I get that readers want to believe that Author Z intended X Meaning, because it makes it seem Truer (the capital T matters, absolute inarguable Truth, not the subjective kind) and thus makes them feel better. Said readers do not want to accept the meaning they found as belonging only to themselves and perhaps friends, it makes that meaning seem less meaningful, even if it does not really matter how much "objectivity" their meaning has as long as the subjective meaning is strong.

I admit to having sometimes been in this category of wanting my subjective meaning to be True objective author-intended meaning.

Edited by Interdimensional Observer

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12 minutes ago, Interdimensional Observer said:

You could be right about underthinking it, but at the same time, I'm in a similar camp to you about fans more often overthinking it and creating meaning that isn't originally there.

Not that the author has sole rights to determine the meaning of a text/work, they don't. But claiming what authorial intent was, and "I see X Meaning in Story Y", are two wholly different things. I get that readers want to believe that Author Z intended X Meaning, because it makes it seem Truer (the capital T matters, absolute inarguable Truth, not the subjective kind) and thus makes them feel better. Said readers do not want to accept the meaning they found as belonging only to themselves and perhaps friends, it makes that meaning seem less meaningful, even if it does not really matter how much "objectivity" their meaning has as long as the subjective meaning is strong.

I admit to having sometimes been in this category of wanting my subjective meaning to be True objective author-intended meaning.

And does the intent of the author really matter? 

In ermeneutics there is a concept called "death of the author", wich basically means that we should interpret the work like if the author is dead and cannot provide further clarification.

An author is never so perfect that their vision will be translated in a work of art with 100% accuracy. And when they see their own work they use concept from outside the story to interpret it. For example, fates writers may have decided that Takumi is the secret son of Garon, but this information is meaningless if they have not wrote it in the story. If those people told me that Takumi became Betrayal because Garon blood was cursed i can answer that they are full of shit because the story never tell that. 

And to top it all, authors often put things they don't intended in the story. A little time ago i wrote about two character arguing. No one was intended to be fully right but i slipped up and made one side far more convincing, and only realized that mistake after many rereads. Unconscious biases and inspirations are a thing.

The author interpretation of a story is just one of many. As a critic told to Asimov "Just because you wrote it, what makes you think you know anything about it"?

 

As long as you can support your interpretation with quotes and a proper reasoning, it is as valid as the author's one.

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3 hours ago, Flere210 said:

An author is never so perfect that their vision will be translated in a work of art with 100% accuracy. And when they see their own work they use concept from outside the story to interpret it. *Snipped for later*

 And to top it all, authors often put things they don't intended in the story. A little time ago i wrote about two character arguing. No one was intended to be fully right but i slipped up and made one side far more convincing, and only realized that mistake after many rereads. Unconscious biases and inspirations are a thing.

True. This plays into/is execution of the ideas, no?

And of course, to use some FE examples:

  • A possible Hoshido in the right and true bias in Fates.
  • SoV's birth vs. merit being muddled by Alm
  • Celica's pacifism/faith vs. Alm's "bellicosity"/"humanism" being unbalanced and in Alm's favor.
  • A Laguz lean in Tellius's Beorc-Laguz conflict.
  • Ike not being so common and independent merit-having as intended.
  • FE4 not actually fully portraying the complex Arvis Kaga extremely adores in his head.
  • Kaga's claims that Sigurd's journey is just a prelude to Seliph's which is the "better" story.

 

3 hours ago, Flere210 said:

In hermeneutics [added the missing "h"] there is a concept called "death of the author", which basically means that we should interpret the work like if the author is dead and cannot provide further clarification.

This will be really useful for understanding the unfinished and unassembled notes that will comprise the final "book" of A Song of Fire and Ice.

Even before death, authors I don't think are willing to fully explain every little detail that they wrote. I don't think IS has ever said Lucina having a second, weaker Falchion than Chrom's at full power, is a reference to Shadow Dragon's two Falchions. Even though it would be simple and minor a matter it would be to yea or nay this notion.

 

2 hours ago, Flere210 said:

For example, fates writers may have decided that Takumi is the secret son of Garon, but this information is meaningless if they have not wrote it in the story. If those people told me that Takumi became Betrayal because Garon blood was cursed i can answer that they are full of shit because the story never tell that. 

How this reminds me of these two:

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Edgy Son who hates his father, check. A King Dad so deadbeat the Queen of the Netherworld thinks they should swap jobs (not really), check.

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7 hours ago, Flere210 said:

And does the intent of the author really matter? 

In ermeneutics there is a concept called "death of the author", which basically means that we should interpret the work like if the author is dead and cannot provide further clarification.

An author is never so perfect that their vision will be translated in a work of art with 100% accuracy. And when they see their own work they use concept from outside the story to interpret it. For example, fates writers may have decided that Takumi is the secret son of Garon, but this information is meaningless if they have not wrote it in the story. If those people told me that Takumi became Betrayal because Garon blood was cursed i can answer that they are full of shit because the story never tell that. 

 And to top it all, authors often put things they don't intended in the story. A little time ago i wrote about two character arguing. No one was intended to be fully right but i slipped up and made one side far more convincing, and only realized that mistake after many rereads. Unconscious biases and inspirations are a thing.

 The author interpretation of a story is just one of many. As a critic told to Asimov "Just because you wrote it, what makes you think you know anything about it"?

 

As long as you can support your interpretation with quotes and a proper reasoning, it is as valid as the author's one.

I was already looking for someone mentioning death of the author.

This is quite a difficult topic to talk about for me because 1. it isn't black and white in my eyes and 2. I'm very well known to not understand subtlety so I can often only see the most basic themes in a story (which often have authorial intent).

While I think it is also important to get your own meaning and themes out of a story because it encourages thinking, I also think that the authorial intent is important since they are the one making the story and knowing their intent can enrich the story or make it easier to see flaws in the writing. I think that you shouldn't have your opinion or interpretation be dictated by both and try to find a balance (which admittedly is hard). Something like Fates has very clear themes thanks to how the game was marketed and presented to the public. If you live by death of the author you must ignore this and look at the story on it's own. But if you keep those things in mind you can more easily analyse and see where it goes wrong and why it is such an unsatifying story.

I guess it are all just point of views. I prefer to know the author's intent because it makes it easier to analyse and critisize. Some want to find their own meaning in a story despite what the author ight have said. 

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9 hours ago, LJwalhout said:

I was already looking for someone mentioning death of the author.

This is quite a difficult topic to talk about for me because 1. it isn't black and white in my eyes and 2. I'm very well known to not understand subtlety so I can often only see the most basic themes in a story (which often have authorial intent).

While I think it is also important to get your own meaning and themes out of a story because it encourages thinking, I also think that the authorial intent is important since they are the one making the story and knowing their intent can enrich the story or make it easier to see flaws in the writing. I think that you shouldn't have your opinion or interpretation be dictated by both and try to find a balance (which admittedly is hard). Something like Fates has very clear themes thanks to how the game was marketed and presented to the public. If you live by death of the author you must ignore this and look at the story on it's own. But if you keep those things in mind you can more easily analyse and see where it goes wrong and why it is such an unsatifying story.

I guess it are all just point of views. I prefer to know the author's intent because it makes it easier to analyse and critisize. Some want to find their own meaning in a story despite what the author ight have said. 

17 hours ago, Flere210 said:

And does the intent of the author really matter? 

In ermeneutics there is a concept called "death of the author", wich basically means that we should interpret the work like if the author is dead and cannot provide further clarification.

An author is never so perfect that their vision will be translated in a work of art with 100% accuracy. And when they see their own work they use concept from outside the story to interpret it. For example, fates writers may have decided that Takumi is the secret son of Garon, but this information is meaningless if they have not wrote it in the story. If those people told me that Takumi became Betrayal because Garon blood was cursed i can answer that they are full of shit because the story never tell that. 

And to top it all, authors often put things they don't intended in the story. A little time ago i wrote about two character arguing. No one was intended to be fully right but i slipped up and made one side far more convincing, and only realized that mistake after many rereads. Unconscious biases and inspirations are a thing.

The author interpretation of a story is just one of many. As a critic told to Asimov "Just because you wrote it, what makes you think you know anything about it"?

 

As long as you can support your interpretation with quotes and a proper reasoning, it is as valid as the author's one.

I agree with this obviously there is a balance that needs to be had. Obviously writer's don't have 100% over how their stories will be interpreted. The best they can do is use what tools and skills they have to make their messages as clear as possible and convey that to the audience. It really is a two way streak. What an author intends to convey and what an author intends to convey vs what they actually conveyed can be entirely separate things. For example echoes. That story wants to tell a tale about classism and how one's bloodline does not matter to a man's worth but that with the way the story is written that overall theme is contradicted through various events that happen in the plot(Royal sword, Alm being secretly royalty, the rigelian vault, the prophecy, the brand both Alm and Celica have, etc.) Structurally the overall plot is sound however thematically it is a mess in all sorts of ways to which I could write an entire essay about but that's besides the point. In that I consider SoV's story to be awful cause I don't care how structurally sound the story is. If you contradict the very thing that structure is in service to then yeah that's not good. The plot/characters and themes of the story go together like oil and water. They only detract from each other which in my opinion makes the story just terrible. In regards to fates while structurally it's a bit messy, I can at least understand why they made the narrative decisions they did cause on a thematic level it does make sense and the plot itself does not contradict this theme. It may be a forced and hamifisted way of showing it but at the very least it makes sense to the story's themes and ideas. It doesn't detract from them therefore I wouldn't say it's terrible. Like I said stories are inherently contrived and unrealistic it's just a matter of how much you're willing to overlook for the sake of a story being able to explore it's own themes and ideas. 

17 hours ago, Flere210 said:

When people say that theme are important to value whatever a story is good or not, it' subtly implied that themes themselves may be good or bad. If all themes are equal then it's obvius that wich is the theme ia not important. A 10/10 story about Pizza would be as good as a 10/10 story about existentialism.

Fair enough and I agree with this. No idea is a bad idea when it comes to fiction if you ask me. Execution is all that matters.

 

18 hours ago, LJwalhout said:

I also wanted to point this out earlier but if the theme of Fates is finding the truth then 1. Why was the story marketed like a war story where you had to choose one side in which moral grey is an important theme? 2. Are all 3 endings presented in a positive way at the end (sure 2 of them are more tagic but they are still positive at the end) 3. Has none of the writers brought up the theme as an important theme? This might sound rough but I think you're overthinking an heavily flawed story and giving it a meaning because it rushed and the writers didn't care about the end product (although maybe I'm wrong and just a dump person who takes everything at face value).

Who knows I could be completely wrong here. I won't know unless I replay through the story(which I'm doing right now) and gather the evidence. either that or the devs outright say it in an interview or something but considering the what I've found so far that does seem like the story they were trying to tell. The whole point of the chapter 6 from a thematic standpoint imo is all about trust rather than the surface "blood vs bond". Who do you think is lying? In that moment Corrin needs to side with whoever they believe is telling the truth but they have reason to doubt and trust both sides equally. Who is the real enemy? is the biggest question of that choice as far as I can tell anyway. Again maybe I'll have to do a full analysis of this story at some point but I do think fates does at least try to deliver a well constructed narrative about "finding the truth"

Edited by Ottservia

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