Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Stories, Arcs, and Fanfiction!

Time for the weekly roundup!


Confession time: When it comes to netprov, I ride to strugglebus straight to the end of the line, and then into the nearest body of water where I sink with the failboat.

Much as I love Whose Line Is It Anyway, I'm not an improv kind of girl. Whenever I see actors doing improv well, I admire them because I just don't think quickly enough. I'm much more the sort to think of a great comeback 5 hours later in the shower. Being behind a computer screen changes things slightly, in that you have more time to think through a story but, as we experienced last week during our Twitter netprov, it goes just as quickly. As the questions and guesses fired back and forth, we all had to be on the top of our Twitter games, ready to type and reply at a moment's notice. 

I think netprov is great for those who think quickly and enjoy creative writing and RPGs. If you have the ability to get into a character's head, than this is a fantastic exercise. 

Shape of Stories

I loved the inclusion of Kurt Vonnegut's Shape of Stories, in the NetNarr blog post. I laughed throughout much of it, but also saw that the man knew what he was talking about! Sometimes it takes someone to point out the obvious on a blackboard, but we all know the general shape of stories with their highs and lows. No matter the plotline, every writer and author knows the formulaic, predictable trend that readers want to see. In regard to the inevitable S curve, Vonnegut says, "People love that story, they never get sick of it!"

I don't think this predictability makes the story bad, however. While it's true that we can often have a general feeling for how a story is going to end, that fact doesn't discredit the story itself. Even in a story where the ending seems like a low point, in some way we know that there will be higher arcs, whether they're written about or not, because that's how life works, and life is the basis for our stories. We can find traces of reality in even the most fantastical works. Even so, it's interesting to see how the shape of a story forms and moves us, as we proceed through a work.

Recently, I went to the movies to see Fifty Shades Darker, and in this next section I'm going to outline the plot arcs the the sequel to E.L. James' thrilling bestseller.

Heh. ;)

In all seriousness however, I went to see La La Land, and that movie was interesting for a discussion of arcs. Fair warning-- spoilers ahead. 

As the movie begins both characters, an actress and a musician who are struggling to make it big in Hollywood, are in a pretty low place. Neither can catch a break and both are struggling to make it. However, things slowly climb for the positive as they meet each other and fall in love. In spite of difficulty, life is happy. Things go downhill once again however, when Ryan Gosling's character becomes successful and his subsequent absence takes a toll on their relationship. It climbs back up toward the end when, after a huge fight, Gosling shows up at Emma Stone's character's home and tells her that she received a highly sought-after call back. The movie is then at it's highest point, when time flashes forward 5 years, and we see that both characters have achieved their dreams...but are no longer together. Both are happy but, when they make eye contact across a crowded room, the feeling is bittersweet. 

I like this as a model of arcs because although the film is full of ups and downs, the ending is a decently shocking midpoint. I wonder how Vonnegut would draw it on a chalkboard?

Twitter arc

Moving along to a different kind of arc, I took a look at the shape of our @netnarr account, and my presence in it. This is what I discovered:

This is such a cool application! I think it's so interesting that the shape is ever-changing, as the interaction on our account thrives. It reminded me of a cell under a microscope, and I can confidently liken it to the image of a living being. In a way, it is-- it's comprised of all of us! 

Studio Visit: Fanfiction

Oh boy, fanfiction. I've read my fair share, and I think it's so cool to see it coming into its own as a field of literature. Fanfiction has an interesting presence on the Internet, because for a long time the perception toward it was that you either loved it, or you were severely weirded out by it's existence. Luckily, I think people are now moving toward a third option, fascination at it's existence and studying how it influences young writers. The studio visit this week with Flourish Klink and Elizabeth Minkel was a fascination look into why many are fascinated with writing stories based on stories. 

Flourish and Elizabeth were so fun to listen to! It's so fun to see people talk about the thing they love, especially when the thing they love is an up-and-coming field. Not many people have explored the field from a professional stance, and there's so much to talk about. People's mind work in fascinating ways, and it's interesting to see how a writer twists another writer's writing in order to put the characters in non-canonical situations.

Pastiche vs Fanfiction-- there's so much more to this than I realized!

I think that the once-geeky-now-cool trend of the 2010s extends to the fanfiction realm in a big way. At one point in the studio visit, the discussion turns to the topic of fanfiction's past, and how it was once a thing that only the nerdy kids did. It was once considered nerdy to like shows like the X-Files, Star Wars, Star Trek, Doctor Who, etc., and so individuals who loved these things hid away in their fandom communities and wrote stories for each other. Now, with the advent of geeky-now-cool, such people are find more support once they come out of the woodwork. I'm not so sure fanfiction is ever going to be in the mainstream, but I like that it's getting attention. I also don't think that it's necessarily the worst thing for fanfiction to be on the sides of main stream society. After all, the main stream is boring! ;)

At risk of this blog qualifying to be a novella, I'm going to stop here. As usual, there is loads more to be unpacked, and I look forward to class discussion and hypothes.is threads!

1 comment:

  1. I totally agree with you when you say "life is the basis for our stories. We can find traces of reality in even the most fantastical works." I think that explains why I had a hard time saying certain things in netprov. What I wanted to say fit my made up character, but it was so far removed from my REAL self and what I normally say. I was going back to my life and the real world.