For today's post, let me start off by saying that I don't necessarily agree 100% with it. This is more of an experiment that I am kicking around, and I hope you can approach it with an open mind.
Lately, I've been feeling like the idea of having a story in our stories is problematic. Plot, character arc, rising action to a climax--is all this necessary? We're told that it is, but is it really?
When I think about what inspires me, most of the time it is a character, or a situation, or some small detail or phrase that I fall in love with. I get that bit of inspiration down on the page, and then I face the problem of shaping it into a story. And, really, that shaping step is sort of insincere. I've already recorded what I want to record, and the rest of it sometimes only manages to contort the original inspiration into something unnatural and unimpressive. Then, not only have I not created a moving story, but I've also buried that one small thing that I fell in love with in the beginning.
Usual when I write, I have a DVD playing off to the side, something that keeps me in a constant mood. "My Neighbor Totoro" or "Gosford Park" are a couple of my favorites, and I realize that the reason I like them is because the majority of these movies is all plotless. Really, nothing much happens until twenty minutes before the end, when some conflict finally emerges and the story suddenly races up that notorious plot chart. And, when these movies reach that big conflict, that's usually when I reach over and send the movie back to the beginning. I enjoy just having intimate stories moving along, and the big conflict pulls me out of that comfort zone.
So, since it's what I love, could I get away with writing a story that doesn't bother having that big conflict? Can I write a still life? Would people give it a chance?
In the end, and I truly believe this, writing is about entertainment. Whether it be on a deeply emotional level, or more of a light-hearted level, I enjoy books because they entertain me. So, if I can feel fully satisfied from watching only 70% of "Gosford Park", (more satisfied, in fact, than when I watch the whole thing) maybe it makes sense to stop writing a story when I have captured what I want to capture, rather than kneading it until it looks the way I'm told it's supposed to look.