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"The story doesn't take itself too seriously." : Conversation question • Writing Forum | WritersDigest.com

"The story doesn't take itself too seriously."

Every month in Writer's Digest's InkWell section, we pose a question related to the writing life. Tell us your thoughts.
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Crono91
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"The story doesn't take itself too seriously."

Postby Crono91 » Wed Dec 02, 2015 4:08 pm

So, this phrase has always confused me on what it actually means to those who say it.

When talking about movies, games, books, tv shows, so on, some people will say, "And the story doesn't take itself too serious," as if that's a positive. But I don't really understand it. Don't we want stories to be taken seriously? If they aren't it begins to feel more like just a story, rather than a world for the readers to be immersed in.

And when thinking about all the major stories out there, they all take themselves incredibly seriously.

Am I missing something?
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pls
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Re: "The story doesn't take itself too seriously."

Postby pls » Thu Dec 03, 2015 9:57 am

It makes no sense to me, either. So don't feel like the Lone Ranger, lol.
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shadowwalker
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Re: "The story doesn't take itself too seriously."

Postby shadowwalker » Thu Dec 03, 2015 11:13 am

I've always figured it means the author isn't assuming they're another Tolstoy or Plato. They may have had a message or theme they were striving for, but they weren't pretentious about it, or "puffing up" their importance to the world of literature. Basically, a signal that the writing isn't going to bog down in platitudes and sermonizing. I generally see it as a positive.
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Re: "The story doesn't take itself too seriously."

Postby updog » Thu Dec 03, 2015 11:18 am

Completely agree with Shadowwalker's take on it. Basically, a story can be about very serious things without crushing the reader with the weight of it. Not every serious matter has to be dealt with in a depressing way.

I also think it has to do with the narrative acknowledging when it's stretching credibility. The first thing I thought of when I read the question was how my favorite lighthearted stories have characters point out the ridiculousness of the situation they find themselves in. They're basically winking to the audience and saying we know we're stretching your suspension of disbelief, but trust us, this is gonna be great. Like the writers know they're pushing things but the audience is in on the joke so it's okay.
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onceuponwednesday
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Re: "The story doesn't take itself too seriously."

Postby onceuponwednesday » Thu Dec 03, 2015 12:25 pm

The Rule of Three

James A. Ritchie
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Re: "The story doesn't take itself too seriously."

Postby James A. Ritchie » Thu Dec 03, 2015 1:52 pm


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pls
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Re: "The story doesn't take itself too seriously."

Postby pls » Thu Dec 03, 2015 4:26 pm

It still makes no logical sense to me, while something like "jumping the shark" does. At least the explanations are helpful, so I can use them to replace that phrase in the future.

Go figure. I guess I'm just weird that way.
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Re: "The story doesn't take itself too seriously."

Postby DrG2 » Thu Dec 03, 2015 7:15 pm


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Crono91
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Re: "The story doesn't take itself too seriously."

Postby Crono91 » Thu Dec 03, 2015 7:27 pm

I still don't quite get it.

A good story is one that breaks the fourth wall to wink at the readers?

Perhaps there's an example of a story that does take itself too seriously?
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updog
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Re: "The story doesn't take itself too seriously."

Postby updog » Thu Dec 03, 2015 7:47 pm

This might help.
"Is it weird in here, or is it just me?" ~ Steven Wright



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