Updated: Feb 10
We use any advice and techniques we can get our hands on. But what if I told you nothing like a character archetype or a trope existed. What if we just made it all up to better understand stories. But now we use it to create them.
The Difficulty of Understanding Infinities
As I'm sure you know, there is too much information for our brains to process all at once. Thus, we only process the most important information.
Another mechanism of our brain is to find reliable and predictable patterns so our brain can take automatic action. E.g. when we look at someone's facial expression and determined their emotion, that is recognizing a pattern. We break things down into its building blocks to try and understand its complexity piece by piece. We do this with everything. Breaking natural events and observations down into scientific building blocks as theories and laws is a great example of this. Having said that, how much is everything? I ask this because we can only see some of that everything. Our limited point of view doesn't quite allow us to observe or sense all of it. Observing everything would be inefficient for our brains. But I'll still ask the question, how much is everything, especially that of which we are missing?
The Infinite amount of Infinite Things.
Let's look at math. We are still trying to understand the complexity of math, and there is still much we don't know regarding it. But we break down its complexity into smaller pieces to try and understand it. We break it down into categories like algebra and geometry and then create formulas; all to understand the complexity of math. Math, at first, was only about helping us in our day-to-day lives, but today we simply do it to understand it better. We hope to find something useful in our deconstruction. But something very important lies in math, it's INFINITE, and it is very clearly so. As long as you have infinite numbers, you can do an infinite amount of things with them. I use math as an example because I don't have to explain how and why it is infinite, it is simply intuitively so. Math is simply a small part of our experiences of life, the world, other people, and ourselves. How many things in life can you name that are not inherently math? Too much to count? Correct. Even though there are many more infinite things that appear in our day-to-day lives, it's easy to understand that math is infinite. If the experience of life contains something infinite within it, then the experience of life is itself infinite. There is so much more to our experience in life than a single infinite thing. If we were born and could only think, talk, and observe math, it would still be infinite. But life exists of many infinite things. I would say it exists out of an infinite amount of infinite things. If the experience of life is infinite, then every single person must continually be interacting with infinite things (At least in a metaphysical sense).
The Methods We Use To Try And Understand
Life is infinite and so is every person that has experiences within it. You can have different people just like you can have different infinities (e.g. The infinity of fractions is different from the infinity of whole numbers). There is also a method we use to try and find the building blocks and patterns of the infinity that is personal experience; that method is called psychology. We continuously try and make infinite things into a finite amount of sensible and explainable ideas. This happens with anything infinite. Just like we find patterns in human behaviour and find equations to explain physical phenomena. These methods help us understand things that are supposed to be too infinite to understand.
Creative Writing - The Infinite Within The Infinity
Now, I'm finally getting to my real point. Stories exist of infinite worlds, containing people who are all infinite. Stories are thus another part of our experience of life that is infinite. Not only that, but stories contain everything within them that is also infinite in our own experience of life, even other stories. Stories are thus just as infinite as life is. This is something incredibly important to understand. This means that we can only write stories from a finite point of view. If you create characters and worlds, it's all dependent on our current finite understanding of all of those infinities. The world and people will be crafted out of finite understandings, which means that the stories, which are infinite, now become finite. But this happens in all facets of infinite things. We also reduce the infinity of math down to finite things to better understand it. This is another reason to "translate" stories out of emotion rather than trying to "create" them out of reason. But something strange happened on top of all of this. Stories contain things that are infinite, so they are infinite on the inside. But they also contain infinite things, which makes them infinite on the outside. In other words, Stories are inherently just as infinite as everything it contains. And what do we as humans do to infinite things to try and understand them better? We find patterns and turn the infinite into the finite. We find techniques and recurring patterns within stories.
The Monster Hidden In Breaking Down An Infinity Of Infinities.
People want to better understand stories so they can also write them. So we break down stories in various ways, such as defining tropes, creating character templates, creating worldbuilding templates, finding techniques to make people cry or laugh, using different techniques for short and long stories, etc., etc. There is a big monster in this particular breakdown of an infinity. These techniques and observations come from just that, observations. But now, people are starting to create stories out of those observations. This is bad, very bad. As I've said, stories are infinite. We simply break that infinity down into finite things to better understand it all. But what happens if you write a story that is suddenly defined by a finite amount of things rather than an infinite? Creating stories from techniques and observations rather than trying to discover more of its infinite nature kills the infinite value of your story. It's okay to use these observations to better your story, but you should always keep in mind that there is an infinite amount of things that have not been observed and turned into techniques and observations. Storytelling does not inherently have any box of limitation, it is us who create that box and then do not travel outside of it. Quick rant: It really frustrates me, even though I'm also a red-handed culprit when stories are looked at from a finite point of view. "This character wasn't used right in this scenario," "I see they are trying to use techniques to try and make me cry, but I can see through it," "The slow-paced character development that the author employed here works really well for this story." Don't get me wrong, a lot of it is probably true. Not because they are inherently true within the infinity of the story, but because the story was crafted out of a finite set of observations. This positive feedback loop of authors employing these techniques and observations and then readers calling them out for the good or bad use of them does not broaden our understanding of storytelling. More importantly, it doesn’t help with making stories the infinity that they inherently are.
We Need To Break The Box
It just feels that we have closed ourselves into a box as storytellers. We need to recognize that the events, worlds, people etc. within stories are just as infinite as they are in our own experience of our own lives. Nothing like a character archetype exists, nothing like a trope exists, nothing like a protagonist or antagonist exists. It's all things we've made up to try and better understand the inherent infinity that is storytelling. By all means, use these made-up things, just like I will, but remember that stories are infinite. Go beyond these observations and made-up things. Worlds in stories are truly living and characters are infinitely dimensional. You can use worldbuilding or character templates, just as I do, to help you find their full infinites. But don't limit yourself to made-up limitations. These made-up things are tools, not laws, and especially not a box. But how do you do that? How do you go beyond the observations and finite made-up things? How can you really start to explore the infinity of your worlds and characters? You do it with more emotion and less reason. I'll explain in a later post. Please comment below if you have some ideas to share regarding this topic or even if you want to challenge mine. I'd love to have a discussion.