I was thinking about tragedy this morning, and the Three Act structure. I don’t remember if I’ve actually discussed either on my blog before, but I’m pretty sure I’ve at least mentioned one or both. (One quick search later.) Or perhaps not. I’m disappointed in myself now. *sigh* Well, there’s a first time for everything!

Old-school plays from Greek theater tended to be found in fours — you had three tragedies followed by a more lighthearted (and sometimes quite risque) satyr play. These last few years, I’ve been pretty critical of media for its ridiculous abundance of happy endings, and my own desire for greater tragedy in storytelling.

Not one to apologize for my own opinions, I think I understand now some of my dissatisfaction isn’t necessarily with the lack of unhappy endings, or even with endings that are disproportionately happy when compared to whatever tragedy may have befallen the hero in the story. It’s probably that I’m just not affected by most tragedy.

This isn’t to say I don’t feel tragedy and loss at all, I mean, I tend to feel the tragedies in action/adventure and supernatural/horror films pretty well, and I tend to enjoy those films to a far greater degree than most others. What I’m feeling, or rather not feeling, is some kind of kinship with the protagonist and their experience.

…Which can usually be chalked up to bad writing or acting.

My storyteller instincts tell me that when a story doesn’t have enough weight in its tragedies, that the ending of a work can only be “part one.” When there isn’t enough tragedy, or the characters themselves aren’t affected, then there must still be more to come. I think that’s what I’m feeling, at the core of my dissatisfaction.

So, this gave me something to think about with regard to how I plan and execute my own narrative structures. I’ve read about designing a plot around three “catastrophes,” and I wonder if perhaps I should go a step further, and actually write my story around what amounts to three tragedies — followed by a resolution, or “restoration.”

What exactly that means, will be difficult to explain.