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Why do stories need an Aesop?:

Formerly G.G.
I know that real life doesn't have any aesops but why do most stories need to have some sort of lesson associated with them? The Aesop in question can be interpreted in many ways, have some cultural dissonance in them, gets lost on the audience or even not match the story altogether but I wonder why do sotries need an Aesop?
"Truly, anywhere I go, there always seems be someone wanting to fight. Everyone in Gensokyo seems so rough."
 2 Psycho Frea X, Sat, 8th Oct '11 8:36:30 PM from Transcended Humanity
Real Life doesn't have any Aesops?
Easily entertained
To be laconic: they don't. What made you think they did?
They don't. Well, they don't need one to be consciously put in; the events of the story often make one appear without the author's intention.

 5 USAF713, Sat, 8th Oct '11 8:37:34 PM from the United States
I changed accounts.
They don't really need one. Most people will assign them one, however.

Plus, it's sometimes easier to do characters and setting if you have a message of some sort to go with the plot. Two guys on a battlefield? Generic. Two guys on a battlefield who are also a complex metaphor?

Now there's something to focus on.

~shrug~

I guess it can't work for everyone, but...
I am now known as Flyboy.
Maybe an aesop isn't required, but a story needs to be about something to have content, complexity, and interest.

 7 feotakahari, Sat, 8th Oct '11 9:08:31 PM from Looking out at the city
Fuzzy Orange Doomsayer
To expand upon USAF's first statement: suppose a man cheats on his wife in your story. Whether the man is good, the woman is good, both, or neither, someone is going to loudly proclaim that you've just said what you think about all men who cheat on their wives. (Your best defense is to make the entire story morally ambiguous.)

edited 8th Oct '11 9:08:44 PM by feotakahari

That's Feo . . . He's a disgusting, mysoginistic, paedophilic asshat who moonlights as a shitty writer—Something Awful
 8 Mild Guy, Sat, 8th Oct '11 9:34:20 PM from the bed I made.
I squeeze gats.
There seems to be this common assumption a lot of people hold that for a story to "be about something" it has to be a morality play. We have to receive a ham-handed sermon to change our wicked ways somehow, or else it's just mindless entertainment.

I don't agree with this assumption, and from what I've read on writer's blogs, neither do many writers. What I wonder is how common this belief is among the general public.

edited 8th Oct '11 9:34:42 PM by MildGuy

 9 USAF713, Sat, 8th Oct '11 9:42:58 PM from the United States
I changed accounts.
My personal favorite aesop is that there are no heroes and there are no villains, just people with strong wills on opposing sides.

It becomes less a morality play and more a mass character study.
I am now known as Flyboy.
 10 nrjxll, Sat, 8th Oct '11 9:46:25 PM Relationship Status: Not war
[up][up]Reasonably common, I'd expect.

My opinion of Aesops is fairly difficult to state without violating my personal objections to profanity... which really sums up everything you need to know right there.

Trying to put an aesop in your story usually comes off as Anvilicious. A story is a vehicle for entertainment; if we wanted a morality play, we'd go to church.

A story doesn't need an aesop. A story without a theme, though, is kinda pointless unless it's purely driven by humor or thrills.

edited 8th Oct '11 11:16:48 PM by RTaco

 13 jasonwill 2, Sat, 8th Oct '11 11:09:09 PM from West Virginia
To appease the moral guardians, why else? At least in America the idea of the FCC and moral guardians doing things like cutting content for being "too controversial and/or offensive to certain groups" is unconstitutional.

Like in the original Frankenstein movie they cut out "this is what it feels like to be a god!" in the 30's and it remained left out until 1998 because the moral guardians said it was blasphemous. It's because of those kinds of people that we think we need an aesop, people want to shove their beliefs down our throats and culture and moral dissonance be damned.

edited 8th Oct '11 11:09:43 PM by jasonwill2

as of the 2nd of Nov. has 6 weeks for a broken collar bone to heal and types 1 handed and slowly
My teacher's a panda
Real life has aesops. Have you ever stayed up and partied all night before a test and then flunked the test because you couldn't focus? Oh, I guess I better get some sleep before a test from now on. Have you ever lied to your parents to get out of trouble, but then got caught? Oh, I better not lie to my parents anymore. Have you ever taken a short cut but it ended up taking longer and being more trouble than the way you were supposed to go? Oh, I better stop taking short cuts. Life is full of lessons, so why not stories? Life is all about making mistakes and learning from them, so why not fictional characters? Maybe the lessons we learn in real life aren't as profound as the lessons learned by fictional characters, or are they?

 15 Merlo, Sun, 9th Oct '11 12:46:15 AM from the masochist chamber
*hrrrrrk*
Plus, it's sometimes easier to do characters and setting if you have a message of some sort to go with the plot. Two guys on a battlefield? Generic. Two guys on a battlefield who are also a complex metaphor?

Now there's something to focus on.

This.

Incidentally, USAF, this * is also the approach I tend to take. There's just people with conflicting goals and different standards for what counts as acceptable means to attain them.
Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am...
 16 nrjxll, Sun, 9th Oct '11 2:11:41 AM Relationship Status: Not war
But what you've quoted is about themes - not Aesops. There's a difference between "here's two guys on a battlefield with symbolic meanings" and "here's two guys on a battlefield with a lesson I'm teaching you with it".

edited 9th Oct '11 2:49:32 AM by nrjxll

Ecce Homo Superior
Real life doesn't do Aesops. You can do everything for your partner and still end up with them leaving you for someone else. You can exercise every day and eat nothing but health food and still end up with a heart attack at age 65.

And no, stories don't need Aesops. That's a remnant of a pre-Romantic notion that literature needs to be didactic to justify its existence.
(it's David Bowie)
[up]There are aesops in your examples. "Exercising just isn't worth it" and "there is no perfect method to find love". Or even "so called healthy foods are actually bad for your health".

If you want to find aesops, you'll find aesops everywhere.

edited 9th Oct '11 3:12:32 AM by Dealan

 19 Night, Sun, 9th Oct '11 5:28:55 AM from PSNS Intrepid Relationship Status: Drift compatible
Who you are does not matter.
All stories have An Aesop.

This is because there is a setting in a story. There are events in a story. Characters have experiences in a story. Telling a story without An Aesop would require telling a story where none of these things occurred.

A wise man learns from the experience of others, and we'd all like to be wise so we're all out there trying to learn, even about those whose experiences aren't real. Some can teach useful lessons without much effort, but every story will teach you something about the human psyche and yourself (or the author) when you begin to ask why you reacted as you did or why the author wrote it as they did.

You can't escape An Aesop even if you want to. Let go the attempt and simply write.
"Let us look less to the sky to see what might fall; rather, let us look to each other...and rise."
 20 jasonwill 2, Sun, 9th Oct '11 6:06:28 AM from West Virginia
aesops are subjective and competely a figment of our imagination, like seeing patterns in clouds. its not there, its completely an abstract concept that is unique to humans; it is an idea. nothing more. its only there if you imagine its there, you will it into being. its like nothings real in a dream unless you make it so

we create aesops by looking for them. they cant exist unless someone looks for it. anyone get what im saying?
as of the 2nd of Nov. has 6 weeks for a broken collar bone to heal and types 1 handed and slowly
 21 d Roy, Sun, 9th Oct '11 7:31:28 AM Relationship Status: Getting away with murder
I don't think they do. I do like to express what I think about through my works, though.
"Allah may guide their bullets, but Jesus helps those who aim down the sights."
 22 Mr AHR, Sun, 9th Oct '11 7:47:31 AM from ಠ_ಠ Relationship Status: A cockroach, nothing can kill it.
Ahr river
It's better to write a story with an idea/moral in mind, then one without one.

Because people are going to see a message there.

It might as well be one you put.
 23 USAF713, Sun, 9th Oct '11 10:09:52 AM from the United States
I changed accounts.
Incidentally, USAF, this * is also the approach I tend to take. There's just people with conflicting goals and different standards for what counts as acceptable means to attain them.

Yup.

But what you've quoted is about themes - not Aesops. There's a difference between "here's two guys on a battlefield with symbolic meanings" and "here's two guys on a battlefield with a lesson I'm teaching you with it".

Well, there's obviously lessons attached to it, too ("war is bad" being the most obvious one) but I like to make it so that multiple interpretations are possible.

I don't do Death of the Author. I like to know exactly what it's supposed to mean. But whether or not I tell the fans this is another matter. Let them have their WMG's if they like.

It's better to write a story with an idea/moral in mind, then one without one.

Because people are going to see a message there.

It might as well be one you put.

Yup.
I am now known as Flyboy.
 24 Mild Guy, Sun, 9th Oct '11 12:45:17 PM from the bed I made.
I squeeze gats.
If a reader wants to see an Aesop, they'll find one in the story. If a reader doesn't want to see an Aesop, they won't. Or they'll forget it soon enough even if they do stumble across it.

It all comes down to reader perception and their perspective. The only thing a writer can control is narrowing down the margin for reader "error, " making it hard to miss a "lesson" if they're intent on shoving one down a reader's throat.

Since I don't write stories that double as instructions for life, I don't worry about it too much.

 25 Trotzky, Sun, 9th Oct '11 1:06:44 PM from 3 km North of Torchwood
Lord high Xecutioner
Whatever you write will have your own political, religious, moral, tribal and economic prejudices in it. You can try hard to be balanced, but there will always be some of your biases left over.

If you don't stand up on your hind legs and put The Dumbledore tellint the aesop in the final chapter, then Readers will search for Aesops and they will find aesops.

edited 9th Oct '11 1:07:43 PM by Trotzky

Liberty! Equality! Fraternity!
Total posts: 29
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