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Ghislaine Emrys
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PostSubject: Episode Analysis by Plot Type   Mon Apr 23, 2012 7:44 pm

An alternate title for this thread could be: ASJ and the Seven Plots Very Happy

A great discussion was recently started on the old board about the seven types of story plots and how ASJ episodes conformed to them. I, with BJ's approval, will copy those posts here--as soon as I get a chance--so the analyses can resume. Stay tuned!

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PostSubject: Re: Episode Analysis by Plot Type   Tue Apr 24, 2012 7:45 pm

Started by ChristinaASJ:


Some say there are seven types of stories.

The ones I’ve come across are:

Overcoming the Monster
Rags to Riches
The Quest
Voyage and Return
Comedy
Tragedy
Rebirth

Do you think this list applies to ASJ stories? (You may not think it applies to stories in general.)

If not; can you suggest the different types of ASJ stories?

Do you have a preference for writing particular types?


Date Posted: 04/13/2012 8:14 AM

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#1: PenskiASJ


Hmm... One of my favorite to read genres is what we refer to as angst.  How would that fit into your list?  I love reading angsty stories, but, alas, cannot write them.  

Not sure what genre I prefer to write.

Date Posted:04/13/2012 8:14 PM

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#2: Remuda


Great topic, Christina!  

This is an interesting list.  Not sure I agree that it is totally representative of the so-called six or seven basic, universal plots or themes (about which I have heard so much but cannot say have ever seen definitively catalogued), as at least a couple of them – comedy and tragedy – are more “types” (categories or genres) of story existing across plot, rather than being necessarily thematic by themselves; albeit both are, certainly, archetypal, and by that alone might deserve a place.

Given this, I think we can find any of the very basic plot elements in ASJ as a whole, or in any other storytelling platform.  Building on them, of course, is what makes them the more finished tale we ultimately see, given time, place, circumstance, occasion, or expressions of emotion (including angst, among many others).

Someone years ago (a film critic, perhaps) contrasted two seemingly divergent films, positing they shared more in common than other movies in their individual genres simply because they both derived from a basic search theme, and I agree.  They are “The Searchers” and “Star Wars” – different time and place, certainly, but same fundamental story of two men searching for a young woman.

As for writing, I enjoy exploring different themes and genres, weaving in history, humor, adventure, and drama.  And although my own preference in ASJ is for the series timeline, I have delved into childhood and outlaw days.  As well, I like crossover stories that are true to place and period; anything beyond becomes too unbelievable for me, and although fictional, I like the idea that it might have had a chance to happen.


Date Posted:04/14/2012 12:05 AM

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#3: EleanorW


I have heard the edict that there are  only seven types of story, but I would have depicted a few more genres than seven. Just thinking of various books I've read over the years, I would say that most stories fall into the categories of: Comedy, Crime, Murder-Mystery, Supernatural, tales of friendship, Love stories, Triumph over Adversity, Rags to Ritches and Tragedy with Science Fiction and Horror stories being two additional genres on their own.

I'd have to give some thought to how many of those appear in ASJ stories, probably little bits of all of them but certainly friendship, and some comedy.  I like writing stories that, as Penski says, we term 'angst'. Not sure if that would count as a genre on its own, I suppose you would have to allocate the ultimate category of such a story in accordance with the final outcome of the plot i.e. triumph or tragedy, since most 'angst' stories usually end up going in one of those directions.


Date Posted:04/14/2012 2:49 PM

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#4: GhislaineEmrys


I did a google search and apparently the source of the idea that there are a set number of basic plots comes from Aristotle, who postulated there are six elements of drama.  At some point, this was expanded to seven and they are:

* The Quest
* Voyage and Return
* Rebirth
* Comedy (not exactly what we think of as comedy)
* Tragedy (ditto)
* Overcoming the Monster
* Rags to Riches

Here's a link that describes them in greater detail:
http://peterreeves.suite101.com/what-are-the-seven-basic-plot-definitions-a58402

I think it's useful to distinguish between plot and genre.  Plot refers to the events that occur in a story, such as those listed above, but a genre could have any kind of plot.  For example, the plot of The Bounty Hunter is Tragedy but the genre is angst with elements of humor and hurt-comfort (at least as I see it).

It would be interesting to describe some episodes within this framework.  How would YOU characterize an episode you like--what is the plot and what is/are the genre(s)?


Date Posted:04/14/2012 5:46 PM

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#5: beejaycat



Ghislaine beat me to it, but I was going to point out, and agree with her, that genre and plot are two different things.

Comedy in the sense of the 7 basic plots: A comedy is a story of the rise in fortune of a 
sympathetic central character. It doesn't have to be a gut-buster-it simply requires a happy ending.

 
Tragedy is the mirror image: Tragedy depicts the downfall of a basically good person through some fatal 
error or misjudgment, producing suffering and insight on the part of the 
protagonist and arousing pity and fear on the part of the audience.

But then Aristotle defines elements of tragedy to include plot as one of the three.

Anyone wanna write a dissertation?

Anyway, the utalization of a good plot to me is what makes a story more than formula, a book more than pulp.


And according to the great philosopher Chico Marx-comedy(the type we normally think of) has 5 basic jokes. Unfortunately, he didn't outline them.
ASJ, the series as a whole-not individual episodes, would be an Aristotolian comedy as we are following sympathetic characters that are improving themselves.

I have to disagree with Ghislaine about angst being the genre of The Bounty Hunter. At least I don't think the men who watched it would categorize it as angst. Looking up literary genres produces tamer results such as mystery, fantasy, historical fiction etc. So I'd go for Historical fiction genre(the western)/tragedy plot. So for me any episode that has a happy/positive ending has historical fiction genre/plot comedy and any with an unhappy ending: historical fiction genre/tragedy plot.

No reason you can't make up your own list of genres, though. I'm certain angst would be top of the list. 


Date Posted:04/14/2012 6:19 PM

========================================

#6: GhislaineEmrys


In response to BJ: GMmostlyTA! 

The reason I think The Bounty Hunter falls into the genre of angst is because of all the tribulations the boys go through as Joe tries to take them in.  Heyes and Kid are facing prison--a very scary future for them--if he's successful, yet every time they come close to escaping, Joe catches them again, which is very frustrating to them.

However, upon further thought and investigation, I have decided and discovered that angst is a relatively new genre that arose, seemingly, through fanfiction and popular music, as evidenced here:

Angst means fear or anxiety. It is a German, Dutch and Scandanivian word. Angst is usually associated with teenagers, known as 'teenage angst'. Angst is also associated with certain types of music such as punk, nu metal and grunge. Angsty teenagers usually listen to this type of music.Teenage Angst has been mentioned by bands such as Nirvana and Placebo. One of Nirvana's songs 'Serve the Servant' contained a line about teenage angst and Placebo released a song called 'Teenage Angst'. Angst has also become a popular genre in fanfiction and usually involves characters from popular books turning gothic, which has sparked criticism from readers who dislike stores where characters' personalities are changed from the original works. -- Anonymous

(Source: http://www.blurtit.com/q572736.html)


Certainly, in the English Language Arts classes I co-teach, angst is not one of the genres we teach the students about.  The ones BJ listed, along with poetry, drama, myths/legends/fables, biography/autobiography, and realistic fiction are the ones that are taught to students in the US nowadays.


Date Posted:04/14/2012 6:56 PM

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#7: Max1


And overall ASJ has a huge dollop of:

"The Quest"  ???

as the search for amnesty / effort to stay straight is the McGuffin that keeps our boys moving.
(And lots of episodes have a sub-quest - that elusive 'stake'...)

And lots of 'Overcoming the Monster' in various episodes as they battle villains / the law.  (Monsters don't have to be monsters in their own point of view - Not only Clitterhouse but Judge Hanley can be a valid 'monster' until he does the classic 'turn-about-face' to set us back in comedy land...)

Sheesh - must get back to work.

I propose however, shall we have a 'which is predominant of the 7 plots in each episode'  ramble???

McGreedy Bust...
60% quest - that elusive $20k stake which is in turn a step on amnesty quest
40% overcoming the monsters... loveable monsters in McCreedy and Armenderiz, but all the same...


Date Posted:04/16/2012 3:24 AM

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#8: GhislaineEmrys

Reply to Max1 (04/16/2012 5:24 AM):

I propose however, shall we have a 'which is predominant of the 7 plots in each episode'  ramble???

McGreedy Bust...
60% quest - that elusive $20k stake which is in turn a step on amnesty quest
40% overcoming the monsters... loveable monsters in McCreedy and Armenderiz, but all the same...



And, of course, The Quest in The McCreedy Bust is also that of Big Mac attempting to retrieve the bust of Caesar and, in a broader view, a quest between McCreedy and Armendariz for territorial supremacy of the region.  Additionally, there's the quest of Blake and the sheriff attempting to find out who Smith and Jones really are.

More thoughts on this episode???  I think it'd be lots of fun to analyze the show in this way!


Date Posted:04/16/2012 9:38 AM

========================================

#9: beejaycat


Yep. The Bust of Ceasar is the Holy Grail of ASJ. The series itself is The Odessey of Amnesty. Nice Max. :-)


Date Posted:04/16/2012 10:39 AM

========================================

#10: skykomish

I am thoroughly enjoying the conversation in this thread. 

My one long time quibble with Aristotle's categories is the lack of a mystery category.  I suppose that the mystery varies enough in form to slip into some of the seven plot lines. For example, perhaps some mysteries could be seen as 'overcoming the monster,' or 'the quest.'  But isn't the mystery, in its purest form, simply discovering the truth?  If so, I'm not sure that it fits into Aristotle's neat packages. 

I think that Ghis' suggestion that we discuss the episodes in this manner sounds like a great deal of fun.  I would place The McCreedy Bust firmly in 'the quest' category.  Heyes and Curry only care about obtaining $20,000 and leaving town with that money.  As long as they get their money and leave unhindered, I think what happens to Armendariz and McCreedy is irrelevant to them.  Armendariz and McCreedy may, or may not, be monsters, but HH and KC don't really care whether they are overcome or not.  Their goal is the money and escape.

As for The Bounty Hunter, I would place that as a pure, classic tragedy.  Joe Simms is the tragic hero.  His flaw would either be his determination to bring them in no matter the cost, or his pride which believes that he will succeed no matter what obstacles he encounters.  His persistence and pride are great assets to a point, but his unwillingness to accept that the white ranchers will not permit him to turn in two white prisoners and collect the reward leads to his death.  Pure, classic, Greek and Elizabethan tragedy.

Date Posted:04/16/2012 8:48 PM

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#11: GhislaineEmrys

Sky: I would characterize mystery as a genre rather than a plot type.  As you indicated, several of the plot types could incorporate a mystery in them.  There can be comedic and tragic mysteries, mysteries where the protagonist has to overcome a monster, and so forth.  But, overall, I think a mystery is a quest story, in that it's a search for the truth of whodunnit.  So, imho, in that respect, Aristotle did take care of mystery!


Date Posted:04/16/2012 9:15 PM

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#12: ChristinaASJ

In The McCreedy Bust they overcome the "monster" of temptation when they only take the bust.

Date Posted:04/17/2012 4:08 AM

========================================

#13: skykomish


Ghis - I absolutely agree that 'mystery' is a genre rather than a plot type.  I guess I wasn't clear enough with my wording in my earlier post.  What I meant was that within the mystery genre is a plot type that I am not sure falls within Aristotle's categories.  That is the plot of simply trying to uncover the truth.  I suppose it could be considered a type of 'quest,' but it would bear little resemblance to the 'quest' in a more traditional sense.  I guess that not everything falls neatly into categories, though I do think that the "7 Basic Plots" idea has a lot of merit. 

Date Posted:04/17/2012 6:09 AM

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PostSubject: Re: Episode Analysis by Plot Type   Tue Apr 24, 2012 7:58 pm

So now that the discussion to date is available again, I have a proposal:

How about we systematize this a bit and analyze the episodes on a regular basis? Maybe we could analyze one episode a month, like the picture and story challenges, to give people time to watch episodes again--as if anyone needed an excuse, right?!

What say you all? confused

If there's a consensus or a majority agreeing with that, I would be willing to post the episode title each month to get us started. (Yeah, it's hard on the back, sittin' at a computer like that, but someone should do it! Very Happy )

Anyone who wants to comment further on The McCreedy Bust could do so until May.

Please post your ideas and let's see where this takes us, okay?

( scratch Questions...quest...I think this is going somewhere... scratch )

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PostSubject: Re: Episode Analysis by Plot Type   Wed Apr 25, 2012 12:07 am

Yup, I'm up for that... (It may go a bit quiet when you run out of Pete Eps as we don't all have the rest - but at one a month you can worry about that - er - later 2015??

On the McCreedy Bust...
Bearing in mind the 'hero' doesn't have to a 'hero' and the tragic arc doesn't have to be what we'd now call a tragedy -
McCreedy is a flawed hero whose flaws cause his undoing...

We meet him and hear his ambitions (Shakespeare Act I)
He rises - hiring the boys - having a plan (Shakespeare Act II)
He peaks midway - the bust is his (Shakespeare end Act III)
Trouble brews - and his own greed flaw underlies it - Getting his money back...
And - he is bested - Bust restored to Armenderez (Act V)
And - there is some - though flawed restoration of right order

(You can substitute Original Star Trek for Shakespeare at will - most Eps had a five act arc, dear old Gene)
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PostSubject: Re: Episode Analysis by Plot Type   Wed Apr 25, 2012 4:53 am

Great idea, but why aren't we starting with the Pilot?
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PostSubject: Re: Episode Analysis by Plot Type   Wed Apr 25, 2012 5:07 am

Maybe we save the pilot for the grand finale!!! Very Happy

Or, perhaps we just forgot Suspect
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PostSubject: Re: Episode Analysis by Plot Type   Wed Apr 25, 2012 5:18 am

Given that the comments on the McCreedy Bust were really just random and mentioned in conjunction with the topic of the seven plots, how about starting in May (less than a week away) with a full-fledged, month-long discussion of the Pilot, and going from there? It would be more focused that way, in order, and give every episode its due and everyone a chance to discuss it in terms of episode analysis rather than from just the plots angle. When June comes round, you can transfer the McCreedy Bust-specific comments to that thread.
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PostSubject: ASJ Episode Discussions   Wed Apr 25, 2012 8:51 am

I'm good for that. I'm not that great and analizing plots myself, but hearing what other people have to say might get my own thoughts on it going. Sounds like fun.
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PostSubject: Re: Episode Analysis by Plot Type   Wed Apr 25, 2012 1:18 pm

Sounds fun sunny

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PostSubject: Re: Episode Analysis by Plot Type   Wed Apr 25, 2012 3:00 pm

Personally, I am not interested in discussing each episode in general terms here.  I write a blog where I analyze each episode in minute detail, which you are all cordially invited to visit at http://commentaryasaj.blogspot.com/.  Since I have also already participated in episode discussions elsewhere, I'm afraid I'd just end up repeating myself here.

I really like the idea of having a focused discussion about one aspect of an episode, ie the plot and doing so in the framework of the "seven plot types."  However, I am sure that any discussion of episodes would probably bring in other ideas as well and wouldn't be limited solely to discussing which plot type they exemplify.  That would make for a very limited discussion! What I'm saying is that for me, I'd prefer to talk about the episodes first and foremost in the context of their plot types.  Episode discussions on other boards haven't done that so it would be novel and I think more interesting to do it that way.

For those wondering why we didn't start with the Pilot, it's because this thread was originally started in the "Banterings" section on the previous board and it then evolved into discussing one particular episode, which just happened to be the second one broadcast.  When we moved, I asked our wonderful webmistress if she would approve of using this space to start a discussion of episodes viewed through the prism of plot types, and I got the go-ahead from her to start this thread.  At which point, I transferred the earlier posts here and then elicited comments on how frequently to proceed. We could certainly either return and analyze the Pilot in May or, as Calico suggested, wait until the very end. On that, I don't have a preference!

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