Friday, April 18, 2014

"Deus ex Machina" and other elements in the Periodic Table of Storytelling

Earlier today I came across "'The Periodic Table of Storytelling' Reveals the Elements of Telling a Good Story" at

According to the article, the table's creator, James Harris, "has taken all the tropes, archetypes and clich├ęs found in movies (not to mention TV, comic books, literature, video and even professional wrestling) and synthesized them into an elegantly realized chart."

This interactive version of the table allows the reader to peruse 176 tropes in detail. For example, the "Magic A is Magic A" trope has a lengthy main entry, a three-sentence analysis ("This trope is one of the primary advantages some media types have [over] others. Anime and manga, literature, and webcomics usually decide how the magic system works before they even start, and move on from there. Live action are usually much worse about this, and end up fumbling and falling into New Powers as the Plot Demands more."), a "laconic" analysis ("Made-up elements behave consistently"), a "playing with" tab which demonstrates different applications of the trope, quotes about the trope, and last but not least, a discussion board

The same exhaustive treatment exists for 175 other tropes, including "Deus ex Machina," "Obstructive Bureaucrat," and "Star-Crossed Lovers." Whatever your favored format(s), The Periodic Table of Storytelling is both a great resource and a window into the rich variety of narratives available to 21st Century storytellers. 

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