Most stories carry some element of realisation. Whether that realisation is the best sort of fireball for defeating the Dark Overlord, or how I can lessen my pride to make my marriage work, the characters change and learn as the plot progresses.
I tend to think of the learning process, and by extension story structure, as occurring in three stages. But the way the stages are currently presented always seems to result in a downer ending.
A well-known three part story is as below (feel free to decide yourself what it is "I know" about)
I know :)
I don't know :(
I know that I don't know :|
Another example (about swordfights)
I am the best swordsman in my village. I am the best swordsman :)
Wow! All these swordsmen outside my village are super strong. I am the worst swordsman :(
Actually they are not naturally talented. They put in an awful lot of hard work every day to get strong as they are. :|
Another example (about media cynicism)
The news is a reliable source of information about recent events. You can learn what's going on in the world. The news is the best :)
There are many kinds of misdirection on the news. Some things are true but not "new"s. Other genuine news is lied about, misrepresented, or not reported at all. Every commentator is pushing their own agenda. No one is interested in candid discussion or objective fact. The news is the worst :(
You can still learn from the news. You just cannot take what is said at face value. Yes people are lying but they are not doing it by conscious decision. And white lies need not be a bad thing. We tell each other white lies every day. Some of your closest friendships only work because of what you omit to tell each other. On top of that the idea of presenting something 100% objective simply doesn't exist. So the problem is not solely with the news. :|
To me the third parts all sound like downer endings. let's look at the last one since it has more meat. What makes this a downer ending?
(a) "Our closest friendships" are a Good Thing and they got corrupted by the Bad Thing "Lies"
(b) Our goal was objectivity and truth. But we can never attain it because it has stopped existing
(c) The problem is not solely with the news. That means it's bigger than we thought!
I want to make these stories sound less hopeless. If I can do that I can probably adapt the idea to longer and more complex ones. But for now all I can see is. . .
- Here's a good thing
- Here's a bad thing right next to it
- Turns out the good thing was never real to begin with
How do you find the bright side of a good thing turning out to be a bad thing?
Edit: One can certainly argue that the part 3s are neither positive or negative, neither hopeful or hopeless. I probably agree with you. But in that case I think they should be about 75% hopeful to make up for the 100% hopeless of the part 2. Especially since (in these stories at least) the 100% hopeful part 1. is presented as the normal. It is our starting point. Thus the 'plot' only really begins once the 2. starts.