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A thread on storytelling...


#361

Some storytelling is better off being trimmed down as having too much material doesn’t necessarily make it an epic just a mishmash.

Case in point was the BvS movie. It has been covered in the other threads but I will just say that it would have been better had they cut out some storylines and streamlined it. Somewhere in that mess was a good movie.

If a story really needs to be told in 400 pages (or in movies 3hours etc…) so be it. But if not then it is just being pretentious

As for lengthy novels I really can’t say. With comics the current Doomsday Clock wants to be epic but some storylines are being stretched out and some readers have dropped it.


#362

What I’ve come to notice more often is that a lot of stories either rush to the payoff or just drag. It may be a function of getting older and seeing and reading so many stories, but the art of making every moment interesting is a challenge. A story will drag if it’s all about building up to the next big pay off, and if it rushes to the big pay off usually there isn’t enough development or anticipation. There have to be rewards for the audience in every beat.


#363

A few things …

I like the storytelling technique in the original Robocop with Murphy getting shot up and then his point of view as the corporation is turning him into a cyborg. Those brief scenes covered so much time and did it well especially the mysterious 4th directive… You didn’t have to get it all spelled out for you. Also his enemy was an executive and a criminal leader instead of some evil cyborg counterpart which I wish they avoided in the sequel. Maybe the story was best left with no sequel at all.

Pulp Fiction I liked the out of sequence storytelling where it leaves it up to the viewer to sort it all out which wasn’t that hard to do. It stands well on its own with no sequel or prequel . I like it when a story is told and there is no reason to follow up on it. It is like what Tom Hanks said about not having a sequel to Forrest Gump: the movie said all that had to be said on that character. Just no need to stretch it.

The DC Kingdom Come story had this payoff of Supes getting knocked out of the sky by the “captain of thunder and lightning”. Thing is the “captain” was never that much of a threat in previous comics so this was a case of the writer making a character out to be more than what he actually is. I bring this up because I get the feeling this new movie on Carol Danvers is the same. We all know Ms. Marvel before and now all of a sudden she is so great…

I have to say in retrospect that Kingdom Come is OK as a work of art but the story itself could have been a little more. I didn’t care for the Biblical commentary

I also read Alan Moore’s pitch for “Twilight of the Gods” which was so/so imho. Would have been a bit too much if it was made.


#364

From the pages of, “How to write British characters.”


#365

I don’t think that’s true. Captain Marvel has always been written as Superman’s equal, since their first meeting:

image

Even the idea of using the magical lightning of Marvel’s transformation against Superman comes from that first meeting in JLA #137.


#366

There have been successful stories where they suspend belief a little by using a fictional concept but not to the full and the characters just go with it.

For example Back to the Future involves time travel but is it really a science fiction movie? The same with Peggy Sue got Married. Groundhog Day had a time loop as a plot device

The original Twilight Zone series had plot devices but it was the characterization that made some of the episodes classic storytelling…


#367

The big budget movie storytelling I say has to have a spectacle effect and CGI to justify the budget but it has gotten ho hum imho. Wonder Woman was nice as it was directed by a woman but the thing is the audience got a final boss battle with this huge light show which in a sense we have seen it all before. The same with the Xmen movies where Magneto hauls up tons of metal debris into the air.
Nice but I do get a little nostalgic for Superman 2 where he simply tricked the 3 Kryptonians into losing their powers. No need for an extravaganza.

We’ve been getting into storytelling as far as movies are concerned. I would like to get into books so if you want to mention books go right ahead


#368

Okay:

STONER by John Williams
THE STORY OF EDGAR SAWTELLE by David Wroblewski
A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY by John Irving
1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
WE ARE CALLED TO RISE by Laura McBride
THE SHIPPING NEWS by Annie Proulx
THE ALIENIST by Caleb Carr

These are some of the novels that are so wonderful it makes me smile just to think of them, but that not enough people are familiar with. So I’m mentioning them. :slight_smile:


#369

Is there the equivalent of a big-budget blockbuster for books? I don’t think so. A book, by the nature of the medium, can’t hide it’s flaws with special effects. A book has to have substance beyond spectacle. It has to be held to a higher level of storytelling. You’ll hear phrases like “leave your brain at the door”, “just go along for the ride”, “don’t think too deeply about the plot” when people talk about blockbuster movies that they enjoyed purely as spectacle. Nobody would ever say that about a book. Not one they were recommending, anyway.


#370

I don’t know if that’s true. I think people would say that about something high-concept but ultimately silly, like The Da Vinci Code, say.


#371

Have you read Ready Player One? Or YA (young adult) novels? How about the Dan Brown novels?


#372

I saw that you were typing and figured that would be your angle. :sweat_smile:
I was beaten by seconds!


#373

A twist worthy of Dan Brown!


#374

I will admit that I struggle to see why anyone keeps buying Dan Brown books, so maybe you’re right there :confused:


#375

Wait… There were twists in his books??


#376

Ross’ suggestion of Ready Player One is probably an even better example, though. Even its fans acknowledge that it’s largely empty nostalgia with a few sci-fi clichés thrown in.


#377

No, that was the twist.


#378

@KandorLives is on the money there, especially with YA. Plus you have spy novels and sci-fi and fantasy novels that are just compact blockbuster tales with less depth.

Whenever I write novels as opposed to serials in prose I use more or less the same three act structure in most storytelling. A lot of books follow that structure but you don’t notice because there’s a lot more space and time taken up for descriptive visuals and thoughts. Alot of the depth of a movie storyline is conveyed visually and through sound, therefore more difficult, but many would say there can be as much depth in that medium even though it doesn’t have the same ease of use of as having words and being able to spell things out directly. In blockbusters you can, by all means have depth, I feel like Christopher Nolan has shown that to a degree.

I always visualize everything as if it’s a movie as I write.


#379

Can’t say I am a book reader of fiction.

I read the Star Trek novel Q Squared by Peter David which had the TNG crew, Q, and Trelane from TOS. David put in alternate timelines and used something in the very beginning at the end of the story.
An OK novel, but not epic as it aspired to be.

Anyway… please feel free to bring in books as I discussed TV, movies, and comics leaving books and novels underrepresented… (is that a word?)


#380

The wife of my friend loves reading trashy novels. She is a smart woman and she knows it’s not great literature, but she still enjoys it.