Thursday, July 26, 2007

Writers On-the-air Day 3

Our first Day 3 listening excerpts came from, Meatballs Podcast 7 - selections from the series SARATOGA SPRINGS. Music plays an absolutely essential role in these pieces. One participant said the style was reminiscent of Ken Nordine. The plot? Not so much plot-driven, although two of them basically follow the plot of a journey. Beautiful in their simplicity. These selections blow open what a story can be. At their heart a real sense of place and time. In addition, there were some great examples of the extraordinarily layered sound and remarkable location recording that are Tom Lopez' trademark.

We also listened to a clip from Episode 3 of THE LAST HARBINGER, by CrazyDog Audio Theatre in Ireland. The clip included the convention of a series intro summarizing the nature of the story and catching the audience up. The piece created a sense of place with very little time & info, though there was some discussion in the group as to how well that was achieved, whether we really had a sense of the characters or direction of the story. The intro was rhyming, and there were widely divergent opinions on that as well, which speaks to the range of tastes & styles. While the soundbed was rich, we again had stylistic & taste differences over "how much is too much." As one participant put it, "My ear didn't know where to go," though that experience might prove different when listening with headphones. We talked about the listener needing time to breathe & absorb what they're hearing. Finally, the clip had some great examples of creating "3-D sound," a sense of spatial relations through sound, a technique that can really expand the mind's eye of the listener.

We also discussed the nature of sci-fi, a topic we later returned to - science as the background rather than the focus, character as the focus, what can we tell about the world of the story and how is that information conveyed. One participant said that sci-fi is not about high-tech props & costumes, it's about characters and story.

We then moved on to sharing our descriptions of protagonist, opening hook/domino/inciting incident and concluding changes to the character. This proved to take longer than expected and will be continued tomorrow night. Among the highlights of the rich conversation: When you float an idea that sounds like an existing story, is that bad? As writers, we sometimes fear being derivative, but the point was made that everyone tells the story differently. There really are no new stories under the sun. So the question is, What will YOU do with that story?

Finally, we drew graphics to represent non-traditional plot structures, drawing on stories (books, movies, TV) we already know. The images included stairstep arrows with lines going back on themselves, spirals, squares dipping in and out of a central circle, a straight arrow with multiple lines traveling above and across, a triple Venn Diagram. Stories folks referenced included the movies RASHOMON and MEMENTO, among others. Some of the non-traditional approaches included backwards storytelling, telling the same story from different viewpoints, telling a collection of stories that all reveal something in common, embedding a section where the plot diverges into 3 or more stories as different lead characters are separated. Food for thought: What structure will tell your story best?

Tune in tomorrow for Day 4!

1 comment:

  1. A few minor addenda, for the sake of accuracy. Carole was trying to identify a Ray Bradbury story, and I mistook it for Isaac Asimov's short story "Nightfall." Everyone at the table were closer to the truth, but we couldn't remember the title. I think the Bradbury story in question was actually "All Summer in A Day."


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