Fewer Words, Longer Books

rigorous, quantitative analyses to confirm the trend, so what I really have is a suspicion based on inference, internal logic, and anecdotal evidence; however, it struck me as a sufficiently interesting observation that I should desire to share it with you.  The trend is this: the English language is losing words (ironic, considering our post about word creation), and is using more of them to compensate.

Overpowered Characters

It is worth noting that “overpowered” cannot really be defined on an absolute scale.  Rather, it is more useful to discuss characters being overpowered on a relative scale.  If you make your hero a goddess, and all of her enemies are mere mortals, you don’t have much of a story, but if all of her enemies are also gods and goddesses, then that character is no longer overpowered.  This raises the interesting intellectual exercise of trying to write an interesting story about the relationship between two omnipotent and omniscient beings, but I don’t think tiny human brains are adequate for such a task.

Training Montages

if you haven’t heard the phrase “training montage,” you’ve probably encountered one.  They are pervasive in modern storytelling, especially in speculative fiction, to the point where the only techniques that might be more overused are prologues and flashbacks.  Like prologues and flashbacks, they are overused for a reason, serving several valuable purposes in the narrative process, but so many of them have been done, with only mediocre execution, that the technique itself has become tiresome.

Implications

Have you ever been reading or watching something, and just when things were starting to get interesting, you found yourself asking: “What?  Why didn’t they do ______?”  Sometimes, there’s a very good reason for this that will be discovered later, or the creator made a conscious decision for the character to make a mistake in that instance, or perhaps they were even limited by more practical considerations (in the case of movies or television) like special effects budgets and capabilities.  Regardless, these dichotomies, where you think something could have or should have happened, but it didn’t, can be terribly disruptive to a story.

Framing Stories

For our purposes in talking about framing stories, we will define the story being framed as the plotlines explored directly by the narrative. To take a well-known example, look at Harry Potter. The plotlines of the character arcs, and combatting Voldemort, are the core story. A framing story could be if there were a line at the beginning or end of the books saying "based upon the diaries of Harry Potter, Wizard." Which takes us conveniently to the next set of definitions we need to supply.