Does the west even make "healing stories"? Japan has pretty much made a whole genre of it, but I can't think of any stories from America or Europe where all the characters are respectful of one another and get along, nothing terrible happens to anyone, and the purpose is just to make the viewer/reader feel calm. Western stories are always centered around some sort of conflict, and at least in my public education I was never taught that a story can be written any other way.
In English class I was taught that a story can be centered around 5 types of conflicts: Man vs. Man, Man vs. Nature, Man vs. Society, Man vs. Self, and Man vs. Technology. I won't say that stories in the "healing" genre never have these kinds of conflicts, but they're not necessarily ABOUT them either. These conflicts are decidedly NOT the concepts the narrative is centered around. They happen on the periphery. Sometimes they move the story forward somehow, but they're not there to make a point.
In the first episode of Laid-Back Camp, Rin is cold, so she gathers firewood and makes a fire. You could argue that's a Man vs. Nature conflict, but the story isn't about that struggle. In fact, it's not even framed as a conflict or struggle, it's simply an event that happens. You're not watching to see if Rin is able to successfully conquer nature and overcome the cold weather of camping during the winter, you're just watching her go camping, and making a fire is part of that.
Do you happen to have any links to an example of a Japanese healing story? I know I was taught that you couldn't have a story without some form of conflict, so I'm very curious about this idea.
@Avalon I have no idea if that is what @TapiocaPearl had in mind, but I recently read Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yokohama_Kaidashi_Kik%C5%8D) and that might very well qualify.
It is extremely beautiful and peaceful and there is almost no conflict.
@kirby @Avalon That's a great classic manga example that set the stage for the tone of more recent stories like Laid-Back Camp.
@Avalon I could recommend "Flying Witch" as one. (There's an anime out too, I forget if it was on Netflix or Crunchyroll.)
Premise is a young witch (highschool senior?) moves out to the rural countryside to live with her non-magical cousins for a year, and… life in the countryside is slow (but magical). Everybody's friends and neighbors, they get to know each other, people grow up a little bit, and conflict doesn't really go above the level of "youngest cousin doesn't want to eat the wild-picked vegetables cuz they're bitter".
@Avalon @TapiocaPearl see Kishotenketsu for stories with plot not centering around conflict! http://stilleatingoranges.tumblr.com/search/Kishotenketsu
@Avalon @TapiocaPearl i don't have examples of those, but, i think there're a lot of stories without conflict? the whole slice of life genre, stuff like azumanga or yuyushiki, or comics like this: https://tapas.io/series/Cats-Cafe/ . sure you'll be able to find some form of conflict there and there if you really want to, but the story doesn't revolve around it.
(or maybe there's a definition of "story" that i'm not aware of and under which these don't qualify?)
@TapiocaPearl Maybe in print fiction. "The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet" by Becky Chambers sounds like it would be close.
I have a copy but haven't read it yet.
@chillgamesh @starbreaker @TapiocaPearl
I felt intensely healed by the beginning of "The Long Way..." (the first 100 pages or so? idk). It was really something that I needed at that moment, and I was so grateful fot the experience. (Thanks Becky Chambers! )
Then indeed the story shifts towards conflict, but all in all the book for me was more about the healing ant the conflict was something that happened which I did not really care about.
@hwaja Good point. A lot of what we'd call "fluff" could potentially fit into the category.
@TapiocaPearl yea I know a lot of people who seek fanfiction for the *exact* reason of not having enough healing in their canons
@hwaja @TapiocaPearl so I read thru this thread, and this one is easy to pass over, but I have something to add here.
That's called fluff. In fanfiction, we do have a genre that does not center around conflict. It is purely for fun, catharsis, relief.
And it gets shot on by /other/ fanfiction writers!!! And I've always been pissed about gatekeepers of different fanfic genres! We obviously want more of these stories than we have!
@TapiocaPearl For a lot of people I've talked to -- even like, the writing professors in my school's english program -- the idea that a worthwhile story could ever *not* be centered around conflict is treated like the most bizarre thing in the world. It's a shame, really.
@TapiocaPearl ... Fanfiction? Sometimes you'll see stories where the conflicts from the original material are far in the background or skipped over completely, and the purpose is just to spend a little more time with characters that people like.
@TapiocaPearl The two closest I can think of are either sitcoms or educational children's shows, which largely only falls apart because there still may be "conflict", but it is low-stakes unless we're Very Special Episode territory.
@TapiocaPearl I wouldn't be surprised if there's some in local/indie circles, but I've never seen anything like that in the mainstream with western media. Ever.
Totoro blew my mind as a teen because of that.
@TapiocaPearl Actually I take that back. Song of the Sea.
It's not entirely without hurt, but there's no malice involved, and there IS an antagonist but that situation's literally overcome by healing them emotionally.
@TapiocaPearl I believe it's based off... Irish myth? And would recommend simply because it's suuuuper super cute and touching. 💚
@TapiocaPearl ...wait, it CAN? I'm pretty sure I've read that stories /can't/ be written any other way... *blinks*
@IceWolf If you have 20 minutes to spare tonight, please check out this episode.
@TapiocaPearl it's a damn shame, I've always wanted to read more stories that aren't centered around conflict. seems like fertile ground for stories that the anglosphere has barely touched
@TapiocaPearl "Mr. Roger's Neighborhood" stands out, thematically, but I think it did have episodes about bad/sad things, (albeit presented with maximal gentleness for children to understand them). A few other shows aimed at young kids might work, "Sarah and Duck" and maybe a few others have enough substance that they aren't insulting/painful to watch as an adult when you want something calming.
Maybe newspaper comics like Family Circus? Most comics involve the characters dunking on each other constantly, but I remember Family Circus being really boring (and it's hardly a story).
We have series like "Chicken Soup For The Soul", clearly positioned as healing, but each individual story was inevitably about something terrible happening and that built character or deepened their faith; the overall effect is really depressing, maybe it works better if you're devout to start with. I wouldn't be surprised if Christian bookstores *did* have stories of the sort you're talking about though, aimed at kids with the idea of not teaching them to be disrespectful by not depicting it.
I'm intrigued by this idea. It's foreign to much of what I've encountered, but it fits with a working theory of story I'm developing.
How very interesting. I'll definitely have to play with this.
@TapiocaPearl first rule of writing is tension 😬
@data Tension can make for a good story, yes. A few of my favorites are thrillers. But the notion that it's required for a story to be good, or to get its message across, is frankly false. But for some reason, westerners aren't taught about stories without tension, and they never go mainstream in western culture despite being popular in other parts of the world.
@TapiocaPearl fully agree! Was stating it flatly because of how absurd it is on its face
@TapiocaPearl @data Not only does anime have stories designed to feel healing for the viewer, but also there's a lot of emphasis on healing even in stories that do have conflict. Less punishing and a lot more fixing/healing.
There's tons of anime where the conflict is "someone is hurting people because they have a lot of hurt inside them, and while we need to stop them we also need to heal them and address the source of that hurt or nothing will change."
@TapiocaPearl Agreed, I haven't seen many Western stories that are healing, if any at all. I think it's all about those 5 conflicts in some way. I was even told once to add conflict to something!
@comicsbyemily @TapiocaPearl Outside of diary webcomics, the most common place I see western examples of such stories are (small) video games. Farming sims, walking simulators (e.g. A Short Hike), and puzzle games sometimes have stories that are about juxtaposition or a slow character/world reveal rather than conflict or tension.
One of my WIP comics is broadly iyashikei, as is a game I'm working on, so I definitely think the west does make such stories ;D
@comicsbyemily I wonder how writing is taught in Japan, whether they have much focus on conflict and tension.
I believe Kishoutenketsu (a type of story structure from Classical Chinese) is taught in school, and it's commonly employed by all kinds of writing. Its focus is on change or juxtaposition rather than on conflict specifically, although conflict can be a source of that change. I wonder how conflict is discussed in literature classes. I imagine it's discussed just as one good option.
@eishiya I wonder about that too. I bet it'd be cool to find out what pieces of literature (all kinds- poems, plays, etc) are taught. That would clarify some aspects too.
@TapiocaPearl this sounds so soothing and exactly what I've needed lately
@MmeLibertine You should watch the show it's great. Made all my anxiety go away for half an hour every Thursday when it was airing. A 2nd season will be starting next year!
@TapiocaPearl this sounds awesome and I definitely will. Thank you!
I should Google but may i ask what platform it's on? Or should I torrent?
@MmeLibertine It is streaming legally on Crunchyroll https://www.crunchyroll.com/laid-back-camp/episode-1-mount-fuji-and-curry-noodles-758785
@TapiocaPearl bless you!
Yeah I've done a couple of classes about creative writing... We talked about the "job principle" -- it's the author's job to take the characters to the edge of destruction. I think you're right though, there are other stories to tell.
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