Saturday, August 14, 2010

Drama Club Beating

I was poking around and found a review/rant about Battlestar Galactica (as a side note you might notice I spend way to much time poking around sites like that). He is right. Battlestar Galactica is an awful awful show that should never have gotten any of the praise it did. And while we are at it, Lost too. And Smallsvill. And hell most TV shows popular today really. Though I never really watched any of them, just the small parts I have seen convinced me of that. And the reason why is simple. They are nothing but glorified soap operas.

And what do I think of as a soap opera? Simple. A show (or other work of fiction) that uses ass pulls and shocking swerves to insure the rule of drama is always in effect, and everyone was carrying as many conflict balls as possible (as a side note you might notice I spend way to much time poking around tvtropes too). The result is a story that, regardless of how exciting it may be to some people, is completely idiotic in the long term and exists only to lead into more drama for more stories. There is no build up, no over all theme, no goal people are working for, it's just a string of drama and plot with no over all point.

I have to admit I see fiction a bit differently then a lot of people. Most people think conflict moves a story's plot along. This I think is wrong. Conflict is a method to move a story's plot along. It's not the only one. I prefer a more high-concept approach based mainly on character development and world building. Simple conversation, even about random unrelated things, can work just as well for that.

A story is basically nothing more then a series of images that form a loose narrative that binds them together into a meaningful whole. It is not about drama, conflict, or struggle, it's about art: That is, gaining an experience from it. Yes they can have drama, conflict, or struggle IN them, but when you focus on ONLY that your missing the point. A story should, at least in my mind, deliver something more. Like the play "Waiting for Godot" directly confronts people with a sort of hopeless existence, or how fairy tales or aesop's fables were mostly concerned with morality or life lessons, but it need not be anything so direct and wordy. Comedy makes us look at things in a different way and makes us laugh, and yes, even drama has it's place to move us and make us cry or think.

But this soap opera style story of endless stringing people along, never thinking ahead, and constantly thematically going in circles, all without any overall vision or direction to do anything more then just be a series of exciting cliffhangers doesn't do that, at least not really. It just ends up being a series of stuff that happened and not a story. A story needs a point. A story needs something you can walk away with, or else it is just a waste of time.

I am also kinda of the opinion that any story that relies on a big reveal AT ALL, really should be rewritten. If you ask me, a good story is one where you can know all of it's secrets and it will still be a good story. In fact I find I can appreciate a story just by reading a summery of it sometimes. Sure the execution really is the key, but thats not really part of the story it's part of the way it's told. That said, the timing of how and when to reveal information can really matter to how the story plays out.

That is one of the things I wonder about for my own little hack story. There is a lot of information I can reveal basically right away and probably should, but it does sort of lessen the impact, and it does sort of make the process of discovering said information much less fun or interesting. For example the identity of some characters and the role they play, as well as how they fit into the overall little universe I sort of built for myself is something I could spoil right away without effecting their roles, but it's a lot more interesting I think to find out the same way I came up with it in the first place, as a bunch of disconnected things that slowly seemed to fit together in surprising ways. For example Jiggles herself started as a simple catgirl parody but quickly became much more psychologically important, almost spiritual. In fact not to long ago I realized she and most of the other impotent characters could fit on the "Tree of Life" used in Jewish mysticism... which will probably form the basis of a puzzle in my hack, because I dig crap like that.

By the way, this is post number 42. I sort of wanted to make a big deal about it with large font and silly animation, but I made this rant instead. Arn't you lucky?


  1. So your point is, stories should be character-driven, not plot-driven? If so, I agree.

  2. Not as such. My point is stories should be driven period, and plot, as well as characters to a degree, are tools to achieve that, not the point in of it's self. You use plot to move a story, but the plot is not the story it's self, so to speak.