Thursday, April 2, 2020

Week 12 Story: Common Tropes Among Story Characters

All tropes come from the TvTropes website: Source

Situational Hand Switch- The main character is injured or partially incapacitated, forcing them to use other parts of their body to accomplish tasks. We see the character grow despite their struggles.

Iconic examples of this trope:
-Eragon. The character Eragon breaks his wrist and has to fight with his other arm for some time.
-Game of Thrones. Jaime Lannister had his hand cut off. The great swordsman had to learn to fight with his other arm.
-Star Wars. Luke Skywalker had his hand cut off by Darth Vader. Luke, however, gets around this by obtaining a robotic hand.
-Peter Pan. Captain Hook had his hand cut off. It was replaced by his hook!
-The MCU. Bucky Barnes (also known as the Winter Solider) lost his arm falling from a train. It was replaced with a cybernetic implant.

God of Thunder- Religions and stories love to have some sort of deity who can control lightning and thunder.

Iconic examples of this trope:
-Thor. God of Thunder in the MCU and in Norse mythology. He controls lightning with a number of different weapons that only the worthy are capable of wielding.
-Zeus. The head god of the Greek Pantheon, he is known for his iconic lightning bolt he uses as a weapon.
-Jupiter. Zeus's Roman counterpart.
-Indra. Indian mythology.
-Keranos. God of storms in Magic: The Gathering.
-Zapdos, Raikou, Thundurus, Zekrom. These are all iconic legendary electric-type pokemon.

Fur vs Fang- The battle between werewolves and vampires appears in numerous media despite the two creatures having no inherent difference requiring conflict

Iconic examples of this trope:
-The 2004 movie "Van Helsing." Only a werewolf is capable of killing Dracula.
-The Underworld franchise. The entire movie franchise is based on the battle between werewolves and vampires.
-The Dresden Files. Monster hunters known as the "Alphas" can turn themselves into wolves. They fight off vampires from time to time.
-The Vampire Diaries.
-The Mortal Instruments.
-Tolkien's LOTR Universe. Vampires and werewolves both serve Sauron but hate each other.

"I Just Want to Be Normal"- The main character of the story doesn't want the responsibility, powers, or strength that they have come to possess.

Iconic examples of this trope:
-Elsa in Frozen. Elsa tries to hide her powers to be seen as normal.
-Miles Morales in Into the Spider-Verse. He wants to fit in at school even before he has powers. he struggles with his powers as various Spiderman characters depend on him.
-Maximus in Gladiator. Emperor Marcus Aurelius wants Maximus to be the next Emperor. Maximus wants to return home to spend time with his family.
-Cypher in The Matrix. He aligns himself with the Matrix to catch Morpheus so they will return him to the Matrix.
-X-Men. The ongoing struggle between mankind and mutant-kind creates strife despite so many mutants wanting nothing more than to be "normal."

Mutants in the X-Men often struggle with their powers- they just want to be normal.

Some tropes are so common that there's no reason to give examples that have them. Such tropes include:
The "Nice Guy"
The "Sensitive Guy"
The "Manly Man"
The "Clingy, Jealous Girl"
The "Girly Girl"
The "Damsel in Distress"

It seems quite clear that despite any storyteller's desire to create a new "type" of character, there are so many different tropes that it is almost impossible to create a new trope that does not already exist. Personalities, types of characters, types of conflict, and more are all summarized by a number of different tropes. Thus, while there are so many stories in the world, I wonder- are there not a ton of stories that are effectively the same? For example, I think of the Hallmark Christmas movies my girlfriend loves. I hate them. Why? If you've seen one, you've seen them all because the same tropes are present in every movie.
Are there a limited number of stories that can be created? Is the media, story-telling ability of the author, and the "shell" of the character (boy, girl, cat, bear, angel, alien, bacteria, etc...) all that differentiates the exact same story from another almost exactly like it? I think of Warriors (books about clans of cats who work together or fight at different points) and the MCU. In all honesty, is there that big of a difference? Both have character development, internal struggles, teamwork, and more. It's just that one is about cats and one is about superheroes. At the core, are they the same story?
This website is making me think ALOT about storytelling.

Reading Notes: Tales of India: Krishna and the Gods Part B

All chapters for this reading come from "Krishna and the Gods": Source

13. Surya

Surya is the son of Dyaus and Prithwi. Everyday he would hop on his chariot and bring light and life to the Earth. Eventually, he grew tired and lonely of this- he wanted a wife. Sanga, daughter of Wiswakarma the architect of the gods, became his wife. Together they had three sons, one of which was Yam who became the judge of the dead. Sanga was weak and unable to withstand the power of Surya. She had to leave him to continue living. She replaced herself with a woman named Chhaya. When Surya rode his chariot to bring life to the Earth, it did not have the usual effects. He had been deceived! He flung Chhaya from his chariot and told his driver to continue on while he searched for Sanga. He found her and convinced her to come back, promising that he will not turn his full radiance upon her ever again. She returns to him.

14. Waruna

A great and powerful king wanted a son. Try as he might, he could not have a child. He prayed to Waruna for a son that he would, in turn, sacrifice to Waruna. Waruna granted the king a son. The king was immensely happy, yet ther weight of his deal wore on him. One day the son asked the king what was weighing on his mind. The kind told the son of the promise he had made to Waruna. Waruna thought the king was failing to meet his promise, so the king developed an illness. The son took some of the king's gold with him as he went to buy a son from a family in the kingdom- the king could then sacrifice that son in his stead. Finally the son found a family that would take his money. Before the boy, bought to be sacrificed, was to be killed, he asked if he could sing. The king granted permission. The boy sang a song of joy and celebration so beautiful that the other gods convinced Waruna to not require the boy as a sacrifice. Waruna did exactly that.

16. Indra

A mortal man named Ahi was jealous of the many sacrifices made to Indra. He thought that he had the power to be as great as Indra. Thus, he built a great fortress to protect him from Indra's power. He constructed lightning bolts of his own with magic. He captured the rains so that other mortal men would no longer worship Indra. Once Indra learned what had happened, he summoned the Maruts, spirits of the storm. Indra and the Maruts attacked the citadel, smashing it into pieces and killing Ahi. They released the rains, and the people once again loved Indra.

18. Brahma

In the beginning there was only Brahm. He created the gods and made them immortal. He made Agni to rule the earth, Wayu to rule the air, and Surya to rule the sky. He created manifestations of himself as Brahma, Wishnu, and Siwa. He made the waters and placed a seed in them. That seed grew to produce Brahma. He roamed the seas as a boar  until he raised the land out of the waters with his tusks.
One day Brahma was offering a sacrifice. His wife, Sawitri, refused to hurry through her tasks to join him for the sacrifice. Thus, Brahma asked Indra to find him a second wife so that his sacrifice might not be for nothing. He married Gayatri, the milk maid, and began the sacrifice.
Sawitri then came and was outraged. She said vile things and wished terrible things on everyone present. Yet Gayatri used the sacrifice to call down blessings on everyone that Sawitri had cursed and reaffirmed the fact that they are gods- such curses cannot affect their power.

20. Siwa (Shiva)

Siwa lived on the peaks on the Himalayas. He, with Brahma and Wishnu, controlled everything as the creator, preserver, and destroyer. Yet, Brahma and Siwa argued, and Siwa raised arms against Brahma. To absolve this sin, he had to wander the wilderness. His queen Uma followed him into this penance. They suffered the heat of India in the wilderness. Then during the rainy season, Siwa grabbed a cloud to use as protection from the ceaseless rains. He journeyed to the city of Benares to be absolved of his sins. Even today, people continue to make this journey for penance.
One day, Uma died. Siwa was so heartbroken that the other gods had her be born again. She had to prove the power of her love before the reincarnated Uma could join Siwa again. She did so, and Siwa swore that nothing would ever take her from him again. Shortly afterwards, the Asuras made war on the gods. They defeated Indra and the other gods, yet Uma took up Siwa's weapons and defeated the Asuras. Now, whenever men want to win her favor, they must win in combat.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Reading Notes: Tales of Ancient India: Krishna and the Gods, Part A

All of these chapters are found in the same book, Tales of Ancient India. Source

1. How Kans Afflicted the World

There is a great king named Ugrasen. Life is perfect for everyone in his kingdom. One day, the king has a son. All sorts of bad omens indicate that the son's birth should not be celebrated. The king asks wise men to tell him what all of these omens mean. They tell Ugrasen that his son, Kans, will be a mighty ruler, but he'll rob his father of his power, work with the powers of evil, and oppress the followers of Krishna. This quickly became evident when Kans as a child would strangle people he met. He eventually overthrows his father, gathers armies of demons, and becomes a powerful ruler over a terrible wasteland. The gods took action- they went to the strongest of the gods and asked for help in stopping Kans. He tells them to be born as mortals and that he will follow suit in time.

2. How Kans Threw Dewaki into Prison

Dewaki is set to marry Wasudew. Kans throws a great feast to celebrate. During that feast, Kans is told that Dewaki's eighth child will be his downfall. He grabs Dewaki and throws her to the ground, yelling at her. Wasudew acts a voice of reason. He convinces Kans to allow them to continue living but that Kans can do whatever he wishes with any children they have. They have six children. Kans kills them all. Before having a seventh child, Dewaki prays to Wishnu, the mightiest of the gods. She gives birth to the seventh child, and Wishnu takes the child to another house to be raised. Kans comes looking for the seventh child- they tell him the baby died before it was born. He doesn't trust them. The locks up both Dewaki and Wasudew. In time, the gods come and free Dewaki and Wasudew from their prison.

3. How Krishna Was Born

Krishna is born to the Wasudew and Dewaki amid trumpet sounds and nature collectively celebrating. Krishna's godly form is presented to his parents. He tells them that he needs to be taken away to another city so that he can one day put Kans to death. Then he makes Wasudew and Dewaki forget his godly form, but they remembered his message. Krishna puts guards to sleep, opens the door, and frees Wasudew from his handcuffs. They swap Dewaki's eighth child with a baby girl. As Kans goes to kill this baby girl, the gods intervene and inform Kans that Dewaki's eighth child will still kill him.

6. How Indra Worshipped Krishna

Krishna did everything possible to make the people of Brindaban love him. He put out forest fires and defeated evil an evil serpent that plagued the land. In doing this, Krishna became more popular among the people than Indra. Indra became jealous and sent torrential rain to destroy the city. Krishna protected the city by holding a mountain over it. Indra comes down and worships Krishna. The people of the city realize who Krishna truly is. They also worship him. Yet, he wipes their minds so he can continue to live in peace and secrecy.

9. How Krishna Slew Kans

Krishna and Balaram went to the wrestling grounds. A great elephant blocked their path. They tell the rider to move the elephant or it will die. The elephant goes to attack Balaram, who swats away the elephant's trunk. The elephant attacked in pain and fear. His tusks passed right through Krishna. The brothers battled demons, warriors, and wrestlers, defeating all of them. Kans, in fear, told his men to go kill Ugrasen, Wasudew, and Dewaki. Krishna killed his men on the spot. Then he jumps towards the throne. Kans tries to defend himself with his sword, but Krishna ultimately grabs Kans by the hair and splatters him across the ground. He defeats all of Kans' brothers. He then performs funeral rites for Kans with the many widows of Kans.

12. How Rukmini Became the Bride of Krishna

Rukmini was so beautiful that word of her beauty travelled throughout the land. Krishna falls in love with the idea of Rukmini. She then hears great stories of Krishna from a travelling bard. she starts to pray that Krishna may become her husband. Her two brothers each propose husbands. The first proposes Shishupal. The second proposes Krishna. The first brother is outraged and claims that on Shishupal is fit for Rukmini. When Rukmini finds out she is to marry Shishupal, she sends a messenger to Krishna, asking him to come marry her. The older brother and Shishupal plot to get rid of Krishna once he arrives in the city. Their schemes don't work. Yet, when Krishna gets Rukmini into his chariot and he raises his sword, Shishupal flees. In fact, no bloodshed occurs. Krishna and Rukmini are married.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Week 11 Story: The Foolish Greedy Chipmunk

There once was a young chipmunk who lived with his mother and father in the forest. Each fall, the chipmunk family would work together to gather as much food as they could before winter arrived. This chipmunk and his parents lived through many winters by hoarding acorns and seeds they found while scavenging in the forest. They always made it thought the winter, but as the chipmunk grew to adulthood, the family found less and less food each year to store for the winter. As the chipmunk family left their cozy little home in the spring of each year, they looked thinner and thinner.

This past winter, the chipmunk and his family barely made it through the winter. Our young valiant little chipmunk knew that his parents would not make it through another winter with such little food. He volunteered to venture off to find new sources of food for the family. His parents reluctantly agreed, and the young chipmunk headed off on his adventure. He wandered for days and days, searching for a steady source of food for his family.

One week after his journey began, the chipmunk found a small grove of oak trees. Acorns galore were scattered on the ground. There was enough food to feed the chipmunk family for an entire winter! Yet, the chipmunk knew that his family would be in the situation the following spring- they would run out of food and the young chipmunk would have to journey off to find more, again. Thus, the chipmunk passed by the oak grove, knowing that he could return if he found nothing else.

Two weeks after his journey began, the chipmunk found a clearing with all kinds of berry bushes. These bushes were so plentiful that their colorful berries were scattered across the ground, ripe for the taking. Yet, the chipmunk knew his family would be in the same situation in three years. He wanted to make sure his family never needed to worry about food again. Thus, the chipmunk passed by the berry bushes, knowing he could return if he found nothing else.

A month after his journey began, the chipmunk caught of whiff of his favorite food- peanuts! The chipmunk had been raised in the South, thus he had been raised on stories of delicious peanuts. He'd only ever had the pleasure of eating them once, but he knew nothing in the world tasted better than peanuts. Following the scent, the chipmunk climbed a tree to peer over a massive peanut farm. There was enough food there for the chipmunk to feed his family for the rest of his life! He excitedly scampered down the tree to the nearest peanut plant. He yanked and yanked on the plant for a whole day until it finally came free. The chipmunk plucked the peanuts off the plant, stuffed them into his chubby cheeks, and journeyed home with a whole FOUR peanuts.

The young chipmunk stuffed his cheeks and headed home

The young chipmunk returned home, just over two months from when he first set out to find food. His parents were horrified when he pulled just four peanuts from his chubby cheeks to add to the winter food storage.

"How are we supposed to live on this?" the young chipmunk's parents cried. The chipmunk explained that he would bring enough peanuts from the farm he found for the family to have food for forever! Yet, his parents were disappointed.

The young chipmunk's father took the young chipmunk under his arm and said, "My son, we simply need food to survive. At this rate, we will not have enough to make it through the winter.  Please understand that we can survive on acorns or berries, but only if you bring enough home for the family. We cannot possibly survive on your favorite food, peanuts."

As the chipmunk's father walked away, he looked back at the young chipmunk to say, "Do not let your greed be our downfall. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush."

Author's Note: After reading the jatakas this week, I wanted to write a story that both focuses on an animal and teaches a lesson. Specifically, I liked the story "Spend a Pound to Win a Penny" (Source). The chipmunk in this story is comparable to the monkey in that story- both wanted more than what they could have easily had, and it cost them dearly. I also wanted to add in elements of the chipmunk being too greedy, like the family in "The Golden Feathers" (Source). I tried to teach two lessons at once, as the father chipmunk states at the end of the story.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Reading Notes: The Giant Crab and Other Stories Part B

Birds of a Feather: Source

There is a mean, mean horse named Chestnut. He bites and kicks everyone, humans and horses alike. One day, the king tries to buy some horses from a dealer. The king does not want to pay the full prices for the horses, so he pays Chestnut's groom to take Chestnut by the horses he intends to buy and let him loose. The groom does so. The king returns to the vendor. Seeing these bruised and ugly horses, the king does the vendor a "favor" and pays half price for the horses. The vendor then catches onto the king's trick. He brings his own mean, mean horse named Strongjaw to defend his other horses. The next time the groom brings Chestnut around, Chestnut and Strongjaw act like best friends and tame ponies. No one understands what has happened. The wisest man in the kingdom is called upon to explain the events. He claims "birds of a feather flock together."
Lesson of the story: Everyone belongs; they may just need to find their group.

Spend a Pound to Win a Penny: Source

A monkey is in a tree above some men cooking peas for dinner. When they turn their backs, the monkey sneaks down and steals their peas. He puts some in his mouth and as many as he can carry in his hands. The monkey clambers back up the tree but loses a pea in the process. "My pea!" cried the monkey. By opening his mouth, all of the peas in his mouth fell out, but the monkey didn't notice. He dropped the peas he was holding to find the one he had lost. While searching for the lost pea, the men return. They chase the monkey off, and he is left without any peas at all.
Lesson of the story: Be thankful for what you have & greed spoils happiness

The monkey is losing his peas!

Silence is Golden: Source

A lion has a child with a she-jackal. The child looks exactly like a lion but has a roar like a jackal, which is quite unimpressive compared to that of a lion. One day, while the cub plays with other lions, he tries to roar to scare the others. The other lion cubs mock him, and the cub learns to keep his mouth shut.
Lesson of the story: Don't speak when it isn't necessary.

The Quail and the Falcon: Source

A quail lives on a farm, eating weeds, worms, and the like that comes above ground when the farmer tills his fields. One day, the quail wants to more food. He leaves the field and heads to a forest. In the forest, a falcon snatches the quail up. The quail states that he should have just stayed home where the falcon wouldn't have caught him. The falcon, hearing this, releases the quail, claiming that he can catch the quail anywhere. Thus, the quail returns to the farm. As the falcon swoops in to snatch the quail, the quail dodges the falcon. The falcon crashes into the ground and dies.
Lesson of the story: Having something for sure is better than the possibility of something more.

Lacknose: Source

A gardener lost his nose in his youth, and it has never grown back. Three little boys want to get flowers from the gardener. The first boy tries to deceive the gardener and says he hopes the man's nose grows back. Offended, the gardener chases the boy away. A second boy asks for flowers in the same fashion. Offended, the gardener chases the second boy away. The third boy is more directly states that he would like a flower, The gardener gives the third boy his flower.
Lesson of the story: Honesty is the best policy.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Reading Notes: The Giant Crab and Other Stories Part A

The Giant Crab: Source

A giant crab lives in one of the few lakes in the forest. When animals come to drink, the crab attacks one, drags it under the water, and has his meal. Eventually, the animals are afraid to drink from this lake. An elephant and his life choose to put an end to the crab menace. The whole elephant herd goes to the lake to drink. The wife watches the lake as the elephants drink. As they go to leave, the crab attacks the husband elephant. The wife elephant begs the crab to let him go for a kiss. The crab lets go of the husband elephant who promptly jumps on the crab, crushing and killing the menace.
Lesson of the story: Seduction can be deceiving & Don't be a jerk or you'll get what's coming for you

Wise Parrot and the Foolish Parrot: Source

A master owns two parrots and a maid that is known to steal things. When the master leaves for a trip, he tasks the parrots with telling him if the maid has stolen anything. Shortly after the master leaves, the maid begins to steal. She picks locks and eats his food. One parrot chimes out that he will tell the master. The maid offers the parrot some sugar. When that parrot eats some, she points out that he too has stolen. She plucks of all of his feathers for stealing. The other parrot say nothing and is left alone. When the master returns, the maid tells the master she caught the first parrot stealing, so she plucked his feathers. The master understands. Yet, that night, the other parrot speaks, and the master realizes that the maid also stole from him. He kicks the maid out of the house.
Lesson of the story: Lying and hypocrisy will eventually be caught.

The Dishonest Friend: Source

A man entrusts his plough to a friend when he has to leave. When the man returns, the friend does not have his plough. He claims a rat came and ate it, though he had actually sold it for money. The man knows something is up. He takes the friend's son for a walk, leaves the son with his family, and returns to the friend without the son. He claims a hawk snatched up the boy and flew away. The friend takes the man to court. The authority there realizes what has happened and hints that once the plough is returned, the boy may be returned as well. This occurs, and the man realizes that honesty is the best policy.
Lesson of the story: Honesty is the best policy.

The Mouse and the Farmer: Source

A mouse lives in a hole with thousands of golden coins. In his hole are thousands of golden coins. Every now and then, the farmer would share some of his food with the mouse. Eventually, the mouse wanted to show the farmer his appreciation. The mouse started to bring a golden coin to the farmer each day. The farmer wanted to show his appreciation, so he bought a large piece of meat which he shared with the mouse. As this continued, the mouse got fatter. One day, a cat threatened to eat the mouse, but the mouse instead offered the meat from the farmer. Thus, each day, the mouse offered a gold coin, received meat from the farmer, and gave that meat to the cat. The mouse became skinny and frail. The farmer asked the mouse why he was skinny and weak. The mouse explained that he was feeding the cat to stay alive. The farmer gave the mouse a glass ball that he fit inside. The cat, not receiving his daily meat, ate the mouse inside the glass ball. Not able to digest it, the cat eventually died. The mouse escaped the cat's body and went on giving the farmer a coin and receiving meat each day.
Lesson of the story: Do not take advantage of the success of others.

The Monkeys and the Gardener: Source

A gardener wants to visit a fair in the neighboring town. He asks for the monkeys in the garden to take care of the garden so he might visit the fair. The monkeys, knowing the gardener has treated them well, offer to help. The gardener leaves, sure that the monkeys will know what to do. The king monkey tells all the monkeys that they will water that plants by the length of their roots- longer roots get more water. The monkeys go pluck plants from the ground, measure their roots, and water the plants accordingly. When the gardener returns, the plants are all dead and wilted. The monkeys explain what they have done. The gardener is horrified. The gardener's boss says that he should have known what to expect when he asked monkeys to do his work. The gardener is fired.
Lesson of the story: Don't pass your work off to someone else & If you want something done right, do it yourself.

The Goblin in the Pool: Source

Like the crab story, a goblin lives in a lake, eating creatures who try to take a drink. During a dry spell, other lakes around the region dry up. Creatures have no choice but to drink from the lake. One monkey tries to take a drink. He's gobbled up. A second monkey tries to drink. He's gobbled up. A human comes along. The monkeys warn him of the goblin, so the human takes reeds along the shore, bends them, and uses them as a straw. The monkeys and other creatures copy this, and the goblin dies because no more creatures are killed trying to take a drink from the lake.
Lesson of the story: Innovation saves lives & Learn from the actions of others.

This is how I imagine the monkeys from the story

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Week 10 Story: EmpoWord

Below are notes taken while reading Chapter 2: Telling a Story from EmpoWord,

A dynamic vs a flat character:
-A dynamic character changes over the course of the story. They're fleshed out, life-like, and realistic. They're a character you can relate to. 
-A flat character has little to no depth. They aren't usually relatable because numerous details about the character are never presented. Often, the reader may know nothing about the character but their name.
-Rama is a dynamic character
-Any of the characters from the jakata tales are flat characters.

Plot has three major elements: scope, sequence, and pacing.
-Scope is an understanding of the limits of the plot. Think of it like cropping a picture. Cutting unnecessary parts of a picture can be useful to show the main portion of the picture better. Stories are just like that. Make sure the plot is "big" enough that it's a good picture but not so big that you can't focus on the details.
-Sequence is the order in which the story is told. The story does not alwas have to be chronological, but it needs to be told in an order in which the reader can understand. Movies like "Pulp Fiction" are great examples of how sequencing can impact storytelling. 
-Pacing is the amount of time/story telling devoted to each part of the story. This often depends on the sequence, but making certain parts of the story (exposition, climax, resolution) longer or shorter can dramatically impact the strength of the story.

Stories can be told from a number of different perspectives, or points-of-view:
-1st person. The story is told as though it is coming directly from the author or main character (Uses words like I, we, my, etc.)
-2nd person. The story is told as though it is happening to the reader (Uses words like you, your, etc.)
-3rd person. The story is told from outside the minds of any character as though someone watching the events occur is telling the story. This may or may not include seeing the thoughts of the characters in the story. (Uses words like he, she, they, etc)

The medium of the story impacts how it is understood. A video complete with music and dramatic scenes will impact the audience in a different way than a piece of poetry or a novel. Consider your story when constructing your story.

Additionally, consider the fact that there are multiple ways to effectively convey the same message. "No, thank you," "Nah," and "I don't want to" all indicate that someone's answer is no, but by choosing the proper version, the mood and personality of the character can be revealed.

These various elements all impact an audience's understanding of the story.