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The Periodic Table Of Storytelling Breaks Story Tropes Into Elements

Illustration for article titled The Periodic Table Of Storytelling Breaks Story Tropes Into Elements

The periodic table of the elements breaks down the elements that make up our world into their base chemical components. This periodic table of storytelling does the same thing, except for the elements that make up our stories.

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Image: Periodic Table of Storytelling / clickable version James Harris (poster version DawnPaladin).

It's the work of James Harris, who took 176 story-telling tropes — ranging from Etw (evil twin) to Ir (no, not Iridium, intrepid reporter) — and organized them all into a grouped table.

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It also includes a few sample "story molecules", with their plots broken down into the bonded elements that make them up. (The chemical formula for Firefly, for instance, translates into one part "lovable rogue" and one part "rebellious spirit" bonded with "recycled in space". Mix with "screwed by the network" for final result.)

Have a favorite or a least favorite story-telling trope? Whether it's one from the table, or one that it missed, tell us about it in the comments. Or just break down some favorite movie, television or book plots into some story molecules.

[Via Open Culture]

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DISCUSSION

I find the pedantic obsessive cataloging of storytelling to be exhausting and unproductive. What does it tell us about Firefly that the show is made up of those elements? What is the purpose of this, other than to simply identify the trope? TVTropes wrings out any fun from any story with this.