Monday, October 18, 2010

That's interesting

You may have gathered from my recent posts that I've been thinking about Story a lot. This may or may not be a good thing, but I usually do it while walking so I'm not wasting valuable writing time.

I've been trying to get back to basics, down to the quantum level you might say (though I think that's (a) pretentious and (b) probably inaccurate). Anyway I thought I'd run a bit of it by you so you can say "that's stating the bloody obvious, mate".

Whenever I pretend to know something about writing I claim that Rule #1 is "don't bore the audience". This is not original though I don't know who said it first. Note that I'm using audience in the sense of "one or more individuals that perceive the work".

Why create something? Well unless it's a form of self-gratification, we create things so other people can look at them. But there's no point in them looking if there is nothing of interest.

So what we create has to be interesting. There, I told you it was obvious.

But that leads us to another meatier question: What makes something interesting?

Now I'm sure armchair philosophers could spend hours discussing this, but the only reason I even ask these questions is to get a practical and useful answer. Philosophising without a point is, well, pointless.

The trouble is that "What makes something interesting?" is the sort of subjective question that gets you nowhere. As is often the case it's better to ask the reverse: What makes something boring?

This is much easier and we can get a useful answer: lack of change.

This is easy to imagine in music: just keep repeating the same thing without any variation, it's boring. (How soon it becomes boring depends on personal taste, but it will get boring eventually.)

I leave it as an exercise for the reader to consider how this may (or may not) apply to writing.

What's on the turntable? "Definition of a Dog" by the Esbjörn Svensson Trio from "E.s.t. Live in Hamburg", 18 minutes of Jazz gorgeousness

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