Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Kinds of Stories

I've noticed that people - myself included - tend to like the same kinds of stories. And I don't really mean genre - I mean that people often have a fondness for Coming of Age Stories or Road Trip Stories or Love Triangle Stories or Stories With Crazy Plot Twists or Sad Stories or Stories With Very Happy Endings. And sometimes these kinds of stories combine: a person who loves both Road Trip Stories and Sad Stories will be the happiest of campers upon finding a book or a movie or a tv show that incorporates both of these elements.

And these types of stories can be found in every type of genre. I'd argue that a "Road Trip Story" would cover, in a sense, everything from The Lord of the Rings to An Abundance of Katherines. But these types of stories often include the same elements, the same or similar themes, the way variations on the same piece of music contain the same chords. The Lord of the Rings and An Abundance of Katherines have absolutely nothing in common in terms of plot, and yet they both touch on bits and pieces of homesickness, of traveling into the unknown, and of self-discovery.

My favorite type of story is the Fun Yet Poignant Story. A story that is amusing, engaging, and yet meaningful; perhaps the ending is bittersweet, or the characters face extreme difficulty throughout the story and cannot quite overcome all the little bits and pieces put in front of them, or there is simply a Lesson of some kind that is very well crafted into the story (rather than being plopped down and presented as "here, look, a Moral. Learn things"). Stories like Love, Actually, Paper Towns, certain episodes of Doctor Who, The Scorpio Races, etc etc etc. The kind of story that makes you laugh, that is just plain FUN to read or to watch, but that also makes me think. This is my favorite kind of story to read, and it's the kind of story I try hardest to write as well. Entertaining but also truly meaningful.

What about you, fair readers? What is your favorite "type" of story?

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