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  1. #1
    sswwwaagggg gmanyo's Avatar
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    Default Plot, aesthetic, characters

    Out of plot, aesthetic, and characters, what do you think is the most important/your favorite part of a story, movie, or game (or any other artistic medium)? Do you think they need to operate together to form a cohesive work? Do you think that something else is more important.

    In written works, I think that characters are the most important (See: Nick Hornby), but for games I usually put aesthetic first, then characters, then plot (See: Yume Nikki). For movies, I can go for either aesthetic and characters (See: Chinatown) but sometimes just good writing and plot do the trick (See: Network).

    There are obviously exceptions to these rules.
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    Senior Member FunnyDigestion's Avatar
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    The way I basically see it is

    plot - mythology
    characters - humanity
    aesthetic - storytelling (presentation of story)

    So, what you get from that is, a story is a presentation of humanity enmeshed in mythology. I think all stories fit in that definition (if you expand humanity to include personifications, animals, etc).

    Going from that, I think you have to say the aesthetic presentation is most important, since without that the story wouldn't exist. The rest is in the prepositional phrase. You could tell the same story a hundred times, all different. How many stories about about star-crossed lovers are there?

    It reminds me of a quote I read from the guy who wrote the Notebook, he said he writes about the same things Shakespeare did, they both write love stories. Which is true. Of course they do it differently.
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  3. #3
    Post Human Post Qlip's Avatar
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    Ehh, not to be a pain in the ass, but I put more stock in how effective the writer uses these devices to convey the overreaching idea or feeling of the 'message'. Science Fiction is traditionally bad at creating good characters, because character development can be a distraction to what the story is trying to present. Any strong plot can get in the way of a story meant to convey a sense of uncertainty and meaninglessness. I guess, to me, it's all in the result.

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    Honor Thy Inferior Such Irony's Avatar
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    Plot, characters, aestethic in that order. Plot and characters are neck-and-neck. I guess I put plot first because what primarily makes me decide whether or not to pick up a book is the premise. What's the book about? No I don't want all the details of the plot spelled out but the type of plot it has will influence my decision to read the book.
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  5. #5
    Away with the fairies Southern Kross's Avatar
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    Interesting question.

    Ideally I want all three and my favourite films tend to fall into this category. It's hard to narrow it down to one but if I really had to choose it would be aesthetics; that is, if you think of it in the broadest definition. By that I mean not simply how pretty the language or shots are but more importantly the atmosphere, tone, pacing, the feel of it and the emotional impression it makes; as @FunnyDigestion said, it's the storytelling. An intriguing storyline is nothing if you don't feel the impact of what happens and experience the suspense/humour/sadness etc it is meant to evoke. The same goes for characters: they can be as complex and interesting as you like but if they don't draw me in or incite empathy how am I supposed to care what happens to them?

    When I think of the movies or books I dislike, I realise that dislike is usually caused by how hollow and meaningless they feel. This has nothing to do with sentiment but only emotional truth.
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  6. #6
    sswwwaagggg gmanyo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Southern Kross View Post
    By that I mean not simply how pretty the language or shots are but more importantly the atmosphere, tone, pacing, the feel of it and the emotional impression it makes; as @FunnyDigestion said, it's the storytelling.
    I agree. I think that even if a movie or game has zero plot, it can still be made great with good aesthetics (this especially applies to the video games). That's why I like Fallout 3 so much even though I think the plot and characters and sometimes even gameplay suck. It is also why I love Yume Nikki, which has almost zero plot; you spend the entire game walking around a girl's creepy dreams. It's free, so I would suggest downloading it now.

    Quote Originally Posted by Southern Kross View Post
    The same goes for characters: they can be as complex and interesting as you like but if they don't draw me in or incite empathy how am I supposed to care what happens to them?
    I disagree with this, though. I think that interesting characters can drive stories. I guess it's how one defines "aesthetic". When I think of aesthetics, I think of how a piece of art feels and evokes emotions through the atmosphere. I wouldn't necessarily count characters as part of that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Southern Kross View Post
    When I think of the movies or books I dislike, I realise that dislike is usually caused by how hollow and meaningless they feel.
    Unless that is the emotion that they were actually trying to invoke.
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  7. #7
    Away with the fairies Southern Kross's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gmanyo View Post
    I agree. I think that even if a movie or game has zero plot, it can still be made great with good aesthetics (this especially applies to the video games). That's why I like Fallout 3 so much even though I think the plot and characters and sometimes even gameplay suck. It is also why I love Yume Nikki, which has almost zero plot; you spend the entire game walking around a girl's creepy dreams. It's free, so I would suggest downloading it now.
    Thanks for the suggestions, but like I said I prefer stories that contain all three elements; or at least is extremely good with 2 of them.

    I disagree with this, though. I think that interesting characters can drive stories. I guess it's how one defines "aesthetic". When I think of aesthetics, I think of how a piece of art feels and evokes emotions through the atmosphere. I wouldn't necessarily count characters as part of that.
    As someone who has studied both film and English literature I could not disagree more. Something has to sell that character to us. If you watched film where the main character was always in long shot or the editing always cut from them at crucial moments, you wouldn't care about them or identify with them no matter how interesting they were. Every choice made in cinematography, editing, lighting, makeup, costume, prop, set dressing, art directing, score etc is directing us how to feel about the characters (and narrative); sometimes consciously, sometimes unconsciously. Aesthetic elements tell us much of what we need to know about the character and why these things matter.

    Unless that is the emotion that they were actually trying to invoke.
    True. But even then, there would be meaning because it is attempting to reveal a truth.

    I was thinking more of generic romantic comedies or paint-by-numbers action films, anyway.
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  8. #8
    sswwwaagggg gmanyo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Southern Kross View Post
    Thanks for the suggestions, but like I said I prefer stories that contain all three elements; or at least is extremely good with 2 of them.
    I would still check out Yume Nikki. It actually does have characters in a sense; it's pretty interesting.
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  9. #9
    Starcrossed Seafarer Aquarelle's Avatar
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    I'm partial to characters, myself. All three are important in any narrative (at least in writing, movies, TV... I don't know much about games), but I find that I enjoy both TV and books more when I care about the characters. If they don't have any depth, it's hard to care about them.

    Right now, my spouse and I are watching Lost on Netflix Watch Instantly, and I'm really afraid the ending is going to suck (DON'T tell me!!). But at the same time, the strength of that show really is its characters, I think, and watching them develop and learning their backstories had been enjoyable enough that even if the series finale is disappointing, it'll have been worth my while.
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  10. #10
    sswwwaagggg gmanyo's Avatar
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    Yeah, all three matter, but I feel that good characters or aesthetics drive a story or artwork much more than a plot can. Then again, Tom Clancy seems to have nothing but plot, and some people love that. To each his own, I guess.

    Twin Peaks is a great show if you like characters. Also, it's directed by David Lynch, which is basass.
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