Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Alternative Universes

With all the talk of the relative toxicity of deisel fuel and the growing presence of the hybrid format of engine/motor, isn't now a good time as well to consider the equivalent forces that drive story forward, keep it, in fact, from devolving from dramatic narrative to description or mere reportage?

1. The major presence within story is confrontation, wherein an individual alone confronts the internal/external collision within self, confronts an opponent or antagonist with a differing agenda, or takes up the cudgel against some social or moral imperative. So much the better for the story (and the reader) if there are simultaneous internal and external collisions.

Confrontation, in the present moment or foreshadowed for a future collision--"Just wait until your father hears about this," of as one of the walk-on players in Antigone might well say to the eponymous protagonist, catching her with a shovel in hand at her brother's corpse, "Your uncle is not going to be pleased."--leads to conflict, arguably the dramatic force without which no story can proceed.

Story can reach significant dramatic velocity with either an internal confrontation, say a character struggling to overcome a tendency to stutter or freeze up at those precise moments when decision and purpose are required, or an external goal, say a favorable outcome in a contest, but the hybrid fuel of a character beset by both provides the riches of dimension.

As the affected or afflicted character weathers and attempts to cope with conflict, one more essential insinuates its way into the process.

2. Acceleration, or intensification of conflict, becomes the fuel driving the narrative to the point of combustion, certainly beyond the point where there is no return to anything resembling normal, often to such extremes as insanity, as in A Streetcar Named Desire, or Macbeth, a so-called nervous breakdown, as in The Catcher in the Rye,  or the ultimate extreme of death, as in For Whom the Bell Tolls,  or the unmistakable implication of death by execution in The Postman Always Rings Twice.

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