• Epticx

Short stories

I have liked the idea of short stories for a while as after some experience last year writing one or two, I really enjoyed the concept of smaller more compact stories that make sense on their own. Short stories put things in a perspective we can visualize in one sitting, something we can take in and process while thinking forward to the next adventure or story without being overwhelmed with characters, plot and the world. It's a small part about a big world and those small stories can make a big difference.


Short story cycles is the concept of short stories chaining together to create something larger, perhaps set in the same world or with the same protagonist, they shape a larger picture made up from smaller encapsulated narratives that can be picked up and appreciated on their own, this is something entirely new to games design that has never been used before, I believe that most games are designed linearly with the intention of a user playing from start to finish, however this introduces a new concept of modular gameplay and that's really exciting. Here's a small section used in my phase one presentation about Short story cycles:





Short story cycles


I’ve been looking at narrative structures and how they are used to tell stories, and one that really interested me is one used infrequently and that’s the use of short stories to tell greater narratives. There are many different forms of narrative and I’m sure those that study narrative know far more that I, from linear to non-linear, streams of conciseness to parallel narrated. But the structure I’m really interested in is the self-inclusion of short story cycles; no one really knows who invented the cycle genre or in fact much about this then undefined storytelling, however two ladies Maggie Dunn and Ann Morris in 1995 researched the subject of smaller stories combining to tell an overarching story and they outlined several principles in The composite novel. The stories all utilise a pattern of some kind. Usually, a geographical location or a central protagonist, a collective protagonist, perhaps a family line or group. A nice example of this is actually Jojo’s bizarre adventures; this tells of a timeless battle across multiple generations of the same family each a different story with different characters but a collective protagonist and role. Other methods include a pattern of coherence and a focus on story telling itself. For example, A good scent from a strange mountain is a collection of short stories by Robert Olen Butler narrating stories of immigrating families from Vietnam to the United States.


However Short story cycles have almost never been used in games as far as I’m aware and I think it’d be great to try and bring a new form of narrative design to games. Attempting to break away from the hero’s journey and linear narrative would be an interesting step forward for narrative work within games. On a similar subject, I find the concept of modelling a story based over a lifespan interesting. From beginning to a true end is possibly the most truthful way of telling a story. Short stories allow a short burst of expression and chained together could create something quite amazing. Stephen King wrote a story cycle called Hearts in Atlantis essentially about how the baby boomer Generation never lived up to their ideals and promises, quite an obscure, subtle topic that short style cycles illustrate by using patterns and similarities over the stories.


Things I like about this idea: I like the possibility of creating new types of story through narrative structure


Things I dislike: Short stories could be difficult to get right, possibly a lot of work for a final project?