Suffering is Storytelling.

Typing...

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Suffering is the essence of storytelling. From suffering gives birth to desire. With opposing desire there is conflict. From conflict there is storytelling. Characters cannot obtain satisfaction. For if they obtain it so too does the story end. Those who suffer are alive and those who do not are dead.

There are stories with little to no conflict, and filled with copious fluff. Yet something as simple as not being able to pet the dog is still suffering. And from it desire, conflict and thus storytelling. What makes a character suffer defines their personality, world view, what they want, what they need. But most of all the meaning of their existence. Not from the narrative, but that they need not be written if they do not suffer.

The source of suffering is conflict, from which there is external and internal. From the external it is the land, the people, the gods. With the internal is the body, the demon, the soul. From these sources suffering achieves complexity. Finding satisfaction contrasts another source of suffering. Through which desire, conflict, storytelling.

Yet, suffering is exhausting. It is grueling, painful, dirty. Suffering is the essence of storytelling. But it's not everything.
 

CupcakeNinja

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Suffering is the essence of storytelling. From suffering gives birth to desire. With opposing desire there is conflict. From conflict there is storytelling. Characters cannot obtain satisfaction. For if they obtain it so too does the story end. Those who suffer are alive and those who do not are dead.

There are stories with little to no conflict, and filled with copious fluff. Yet something as simple as not being able to pet the dog is still suffering. And from it desire, conflict and thus storytelling. What makes a character suffer defines their personality, world view, what they want, what they need. But most of all the meaning of their existence. Not from the narrative, but that they need not be written if they do not suffer.

The source of suffering is conflict, from which there is external and internal. From the external it is the land, the people, the gods. With the internal is the body, the demon, the soul. From these sources suffering achieves complexity. Finding satisfaction contrasts another source of suffering. Through which desire, conflict, storytelling.

Yet, suffering is exhausting. It is grueling, painful, dirty. Suffering is the essence of storytelling. But it's not everything.
speak or yourself negro, my main story is all about satisfaction. My MC is all for satisfying his whims and desires and any problems are solved either with drugs, a good fuck, or both. Maybe YA'LL need conflict to keep your stories going. Me, I just light a blunt and see where my genius takes me.

I know. Im a trailblazer
 
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Suffering is the essence of storytelling. From suffering gives birth to desire. With opposing desire there is conflict. From conflict there is storytelling. Characters cannot obtain satisfaction. For if they obtain it so too does the story end. Those who suffer are alive and those who do not are dead.

There are stories with little to no conflict, and filled with copious fluff. Yet something as simple as not being able to pet the dog is still suffering. And from it desire, conflict and thus storytelling. What makes a character suffer defines their personality, world view, what they want, what they need. But most of all the meaning of their existence. Not from the narrative, but that they need not be written if they do not suffer.

The source of suffering is conflict, from which there is external and internal. From the external it is the land, the people, the gods. With the internal is the body, the demon, the soul. From these sources suffering achieves complexity. Finding satisfaction contrasts another source of suffering. Through which desire, conflict, storytelling.

Yet, suffering is exhausting. It is grueling, painful, dirty. Suffering is the essence of storytelling. But it's not everything.
cover2.jpg
 

Queenfisher

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Just the word "conflict" or "want" suits your pitch so much better.

Because saying that "not being able to pet a dog" is suffering is a bit... ummm, too postmodern to make sense for me? Though it's cute as hell; won't deny ^^.

Azumanga is a perfect example of a show where suffering is just... being curious about another girl's choice of hairdo, wondering about another girl's accent, dreaming of dolphins in the moonlight, your teacher being too drunk to notice she's talking about hardcore sex in front of her students, and overall having too much snuggly fun.

So much suffering, ah :blob_teary:. Breaks my heart. But is still my favorite anime on earth ^^.

On a serious note, this is a nice discussion. I love talking about stuff like this, thanks!

For me, Azumanga and others like it don't exactly fit your parameters of "drive" or "want" either from within the characters or the exterior. Wouldn't say there is much storytelling in there either. It became so popular partly because there is no suffering of any sort (even the most metaphorical).

People can get tired of conflict, drive, and even ambitions and goals in characters. When something is done to a letter and follows all the rules for centuries, there are bound to be people who would one day find it too predictable and boring.

Part of why such hobbies as trainspotting, bird-watching, and ASMR, visual or audio, are so popular, as well as art like Pollock or Kandinsky. A lot of people perceive narratives and storytelling there. Even when there aren't any. Interpretation = freedom from art/narrative constraints = enjoyment outside of stale traditions of what constitutes "good storytelling".

In the end, perceiving "conflict", "tension", and "suffering" in fiction is just pattern recognition. And there are other patterns to see in stories, so I'd say this particular one is, therefore, not only not the "essence of storytelling" (as you say it), but also can repulse at least some people into different art forms that allow them to avoid it.
 

JayDirex

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I'm with you @Queenfisher . Some Authors take the suffering to mean "horrible existence" porn. And there are readers who like that. I am not one of them. My heroes KICK ASS AND TAKE NAMES. a struggle for them means trying to go against all odds, bodily harm and DEATH, to save the little girl from a Tyrant/Monster/Pedo etc....

I don't need a backstory where the badguys crucified and flayed the heroes parents. Fug-Outta-Here with your suffering porn.
 

DubstheDuke

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Yes. Everything I do is based on suffering. Whether that suffering is solved is another issue tho.
 

Typing...

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Because saying that "not being able to pet a dog" is suffering is a bit... ummm, too postmodern to make sense for me? Though it's cute as hell; won't deny ^^.
When I said 'Even being unable to pet the dog is a form of suffering.' It's an acknowledgement that suffering doesn't need to be extreme. It doesn't need to be the focus of the story. Suffering doesn't need to mean a tragic fate. All suffering is, in a broad sense, is pain. Pain can be as extreme as the bowls of the beast. But it can also be as minor as a flick on the forehead.
It is aversion to suffering that drives the need for change and perseverance. It is also suffering that gives contrast like salt, to what would otherwise be a bland feel good slice of life. Embarrassment, social pressures, learning, growing up, getting along. It doesn't have to be much, but it's always there.
my main story is all about satisfaction. My MC is all for satisfying his whims and desires and any problems are solved either with drugs, a good fuck, or both. Maybe YA'LL need conflict to keep your stories going. Me, I just light a blunt and see where my genius takes me
Wish fulfillment is a subgenre that has been gaining popularity recently. It's a form of escape to get away from suffering. Though I won't use that in this discussion since the suffering reader is far too meta. When the main character doesn't suffer, be it the past present or future, then they are either dead or an unfeeling god no different from a hurricane. If there is nothing else, boredom is in itself a type of suffering.
There is similarities to wish fulfillment and superheroes. Take superman for example, one of the hardest characters to write a good story for. Part of this is due to the constraints of the genre. But taking away heroism from the story won't solve the fundamental issue. That is his perfection.
Simply put perfection is desired but is both unachievable and boring. It's nice to think about though, it wouldn't be wish fulfillment otherwise.

In the end, perceiving "conflict", "tension", and "suffering" in fiction is just pattern recognition. And there are other patterns to see in stories, so I'd say this particular one is, therefore, not only not the "essence of storytelling" (as you say it), but also can repulse at least some people into different art forms that allow them to avoid it.
It is a pattern, and a tradition that has been used a lot. However that is not without reason. Still, over time culture shifts and certain traditions either perish or change to fit the times. Is is the urge to subvert the norm that drives innovative thinking.
 
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CupcakeNinja

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When I said 'Even being unable to pet the dog is a form of suffering.' It's an acknowledgement that suffering doesn't need to be extreme. It doesn't need to be the focus of the story. Suffering doesn't need to mean a tragic fate. All suffering is, in a broad sense, is pain. Pain can be as extreme as the bowls of the beast. But it can also be as minor as a flick on the forehead.
It is aversion to suffering that drives the need for change and perseverance. It is also suffering that gives contrast like salt, to what would otherwise be a bland feel good slice of life. Embarrassment, social pressures, learning, growing up, getting along. It doesn't have to be much, but it's always there.

Wish fulfillment is a subgenre that has been gaining popularity recently. It's a form of escape to get away from suffering. Though I won't use that in this discussion since the suffering reader is far too meta. When the main character doesn't suffer, be it the past present or future, then they are either dead or an unfeeling god no different from a hurricane. If there is nothing else, at most boredom is in itself a type of suffering.
There is similarities to wish fulfillment and superheroes. Take superman for example, one of the hardest characters to write a good story for. Part of this is due to the constraints of the genre. But taking away heroism from the story won't solve the fundamental issue. That is his perfection.
Simply put perfection is desired but is both unachievable and boring. It's nice to think about though, it wouldn't be wish fulfillment otherwise.


It is a pattern, and a tradition that has been used a lot. However that is not without reason. Still, over time culture shifts and certain traditions either perish or change to fit the times. Is is the urge to subvert the norm that drives innovative thinking.
what're you talking about? superman isnt hard to write about. See my dude, you read superman for his relationships. His adventures and all that simply support this. Supes is OP, we know that. So every writer who has ever written him well doesn't focus on that aspect. They focus on the situation surrounding him. Like the Injustice story line, or the Kingdom Come storyline. They focused on Supes as a character, the choices he made in response to the situations forced upon him.

Joker making him kill his own wife and unborn child? Yeah. That whole chain of events that stemmed from this is where its at. And as for the non-dark stories, the writers focus on the ideal of superman. You know, what he stands for. The best writers of superman even do well in humanizing him. Thats especially the case when superman is seen teaching his son about life and about how to be a hero

but I get what you mean. Still, any story gets old no matter the conflicts you use. Take the 1000 chapter long stories in the xianxia genre for example. Its so long that everything gets repetitive eventually. Its more prevalent due to the genre and culture surrounding it in itself, but any story that goes on long enough is going to be that way.
 

Scribbler

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When I said 'Even being unable to pet the dog is a form of suffering.' It's an acknowledgement that suffering doesn't need to be extreme. It doesn't need to be the focus of the story. Suffering doesn't need to mean a tragic fate. All suffering is, in a broad sense, is pain. Pain can be as extreme as the bowls of the beast. But it can also be as minor as a flick on the forehead.
It is aversion to suffering that drives the need for change and perseverance. It is also suffering that gives contrast like salt, to what would otherwise be a bland feel good slice of life. Embarrassment, social pressures, learning, growing up, getting along. It doesn't have to be much, but it's always there.

Wish fulfillment is a subgenre that has been gaining popularity recently. It's a form of escape to get away from suffering. Though I won't use that in this discussion since the suffering reader is far too meta. When the main character doesn't suffer, be it the past present or future, then they are either dead or an unfeeling god no different from a hurricane. If there is nothing else, boredom is in itself a type of suffering.
There is similarities to wish fulfillment and superheroes. Take superman for example, one of the hardest characters to write a good story for. Part of this is due to the constraints of the genre. But taking away heroism from the story won't solve the fundamental issue. That is his perfection.
Simply put perfection is desired but is both unachievable and boring. It's nice to think about though, it wouldn't be wish fulfillment otherwise.


It is a pattern, and a tradition that has been used a lot. However that is not without reason. Still, over time culture shifts and certain traditions either perish or change to fit the times. Is is the urge to subvert the norm that drives innovative thinking.
Yes, but you must acknowledge, suffering is a very strong word. Even if that is not your meaning when using the word. The word by itself will always carry that connotation.
 

Generic.Archdemon

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Just the word "conflict" or "want" suits your pitch so much better.
I agree. The importance of "Want Vs Need" and "conflict-driven stories" was what I was taught and also what I largely subscribe to. Using the word suffering feels.... inaccurate

And to put 'Suffering', in varying degrees, in the focus rather than focusing on conflict seems awkward to me. In my mind, there are 2 to 3 sides to learning about a character. Thru conflict, on the one side, there is how they act when faced with an obstacle, "the suffering side", the other is overcoming it, "the conflict and resolution"

It is that change thru that 3 states of being that makes the story.

:blob_hmm_two::blob_hmm_two::blob_hmm_two:

I wonder... I could almost say the essence of stories is not suffering or conflict. I could say it is "change" is. The core of a story is made of the transition between 3 different states of being.

IF I am wanting to be ABSOLUTELY pedantic, I am tempted to say "NO, conflict and suffering is not the "origin"/"essence" of the story. The "status quo" is. If suffering is the status quo continuing the status quo provides no story. RIght? Or not can there be a story where there is suffering but no change...

:blob_hmm_two::blob_hmm_two:
I want to believe, the 3 states being in a story is innocuous, with no inherent connotations,

if one of the states is "conflict and tension" carries with it a sense of aggression a challenge
if one of the states is "suffering" it carries with it a sense of pain, a person deprived, a want.
if one of the states is "blissful ignorance" it carries with it, a disjunction with the world to be resolved. a need.
if one of the states is "Resolution" it carries with it a sense of completion, a satisfaction.


I feel that to say
Suffering is the essence of storytelling.
As a statement... it feels reductive and incomplete... since suffering without change there is no story (? is that true?). Such a statement would suggest a lack of understanding of how stories work or the lack of imagination to create more types of stories...

I personally would find it more susceptible to...

"Suffering is a vital tool in the craft of storytelling, in its variable form and potency is one of the cornerstones of a compelling narrative"


:blob_hmm_two:
I wonder tho.... with all that said... can one tell a compelling story without "change". How minimal, how far can I dial down "conflict" and still tell an engaging story...


P.S
Out of interest, Now trying to secure a copy of "Writing without conflict By Ursula K. Le Guin" Form the Harper Magazine March 1989... no luck yet
 

Queenfisher

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I agree. The importance of "Want Vs Need" and "conflict-driven stories" was what I was taught and also what I largely subscribe to. Using the word suffering feels.... inaccurate

And to put 'Suffering', in varying degrees, in the focus rather than focusing on conflict seems awkward to me. In my mind, there are 2 to 3 sides to learning about a character. Thru conflict, on the one side, there is how they act when faced with an obstacle, "the suffering side", the other is overcoming it, "the conflict and resolution"

It is that change thru that 3 states of being that makes the story.

:blob_hmm_two::blob_hmm_two::blob_hmm_two:

I wonder... I could almost say the essence of stories is not suffering or conflict. I could say it is "change" is. The core of a story is made of the transition between 3 different states of being.

IF I am wanting to be ABSOLUTELY pedantic, I am tempted to say "NO, conflict and suffering is not the "origin"/"essence" of the story. The "status quo" is. If suffering is the status quo continuing the status quo provides no story. RIght? Or not can there be a story where there is suffering but no change...

:blob_hmm_two::blob_hmm_two:
I want to believe, the 3 states being in a story is innocuous, with no inherent connotations,

if one of the states is "conflict and tension" carries with it a sense of aggression a challenge
if one of the states is "suffering" it carries with it a sense of pain, a person deprived, a want.
if one of the states is "blissful ignorance" it carries with it, a disjunction with the world to be resolved. a need.
if one of the states is "Resolution" it carries with it a sense of completion, a satisfaction.


I feel that to say

As a statement... it feels reductive and incomplete... since suffering without change there is no story (? is that true?). Such a statement would suggest a lack of understanding of how stories work or the lack of imagination to create more types of stories...

I personally would find it more susceptible to...

"Suffering is a vital tool in the craft of storytelling, in its variable form and potency is one of the cornerstones of a compelling narrative"


:blob_hmm_two:
I wonder tho.... with all that said... can one tell a compelling story without "change". How minimal, how far can I dial down "conflict" and still tell an engaging story...


P.S
Out of interest, Now trying to secure a copy of "Writing without conflict By Ursula K. Le Guin" Form the Harper Magazine March 1989... no luck yet

Interesting discussion! *_*

I wonder if this video can help a little with your question about "writing a story without change" in it:


I don't agree with many things in it, but it's nonetheless nice to think about!

Also, check out such movies as Jerry, for instance, reviewed (twice, the second is a redux response to the first) here:



I'd say both videos offer interesting looks into storytelling that is non-standard and therefore doesn't use the same "storytelling" beats the traditional fiction does. Not much change, not much conflict either. There are many other examples of both movies and books that shirk the usual storytelling beats, and I appreciate them all, partly because I do get occasionally tired of the mainstream or "widely accepted" storytelling modes. It's a mood :blob_sir:.
 

deu6

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speak or yourself negro, my main story is all about satisfaction. My MC is all for satisfying his whims and desires and any problems are solved either with drugs, a good fuck, or both. Maybe YA'LL need conflict to keep your stories going. Me, I just light a blunt and see where my genius takes me.

I know. Im a trailblazer
I know, right. In all of my stories, nothing bad ever happens. My characters just have fun and don't get into any sort of problems whatsoever. I wish all writers followed our example and just stopped trying to write stories that relate to these lesser beings called humans.
 

Generic.Archdemon

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Interesting discussion! *_*
(y)(y)(y)

I never heard of the "Flat Arc" before, interesting to consider the implication.

I gave up on finding that Ursula K. Le Guin article.... Tho I found a quote by her on Goodreads...

“Modernist manuals of writing often conflate story with conflict. This reductionism reflects a culture that inflates aggression and competition while cultivating ignorance of other behavioral options. No narrative of any complexity can be built on or reduced to a single element. Conflict is one kind of behavior. There are others, equally important in any human life, such as relating, finding, losing, bearing, discovering, parting, changing. Change is the universal aspect of all these sources of story. Story is something moving, something happening, something or somebody changing.”

Which is pretty close to what I eventually concluded with... I guess I used to be a "conflict focused" kinda guy, Now I am a changed man. :blobrofl::blobrofl::blobrofl:

Ba dum Tsss!
 

flucket

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Yet something as simple as not being able to pet the dog is still suffering.
la doubt1.jpg


I think... it's a little reductive to apply the word "suffering" so broadly and shows a lack of understanding as to what the word means. Like I get what you're trying to say, but I wouldn't use the word "suffering". Like, not unless I was still 15 and thought being edgy was the same thing as being intellectual. Also a lot of people are saying "that's not really what suffering is" and I feel like the smartest backpedal here is "everyone has their own relationship with language and while my personal philosophy when writing is to root storytelling in suffering, this offering of broad and differing perspectives shows other people have different philosophies and different understandings even of what "suffering" even is."

Argumentatively, I'd use the word "obstacle". Obstacle is definitely one of the key points of narrative flow. Specifically, a balance between obstacle vs momentum. A story needs to flow, but if it flows too smoothly it becomes boring, so there needs to be obstacles. If the obstacle is too overwhelming, the story halts or stutters in a way that destroys the flow. (Sidenote: I specifically don't use the word "conflict" but rather "obstacle" because I think for many people it conjures up specifically like, the idea of fighting. Whereas "obstacle" can also be, you know, Oedipus needing to solve the riddle of the sphinx. Conflict is more traditional but people tend to read into words too literally.)

The problem with saying "everything comes from suffering" is that suffering is an internalised emotional response, so you're essentially saying "actual events are meaningless, only the emotional reaction", which is weird to me personally. Why write anything if nothing written matters, only that characters "suffer"? I can cut out whole subplots by having a character bang their funny bone and be really upset about it. You can argue back "there needs to be a variety of suffering eg. not being able to pet a dog (which, idk, still not suffering and it's weird and vaguely rude to claim it is, nor is being flicked in the forehead sorry) so the incident that incites suffering does matter" or whatever but then you're just arguing against your point that "suffering" is the key, when suffering itself cannot exist at all without external conflict, in which case, the statement is storytelling instead comes from a balance of cause and effect. The "but, therefore" method.
 

K5Rakitan

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Society is the antagonist in my story, and it's also the antagonist in my actual life. Many people have trouble believing my story because they haven't personally experienced a multi-person relationship, but I have, and that's where my inspiration comes from. I'm polyamorous with a husband, two lovers, and a dead boyfriend. However, I'm not seeing my lovers in person right now due to the pandemic.
 
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