Sunday, January 15, 2017

Loose Change

Two of the basic constituents of the condition known as life are breath and the pulse of heartbeat. Life as we know it is impossible without them.

Two of the basic constituents of condition known as story are the beat and the sentence.

The beat is the breath of story, the action of a character and someone or something responding.

The sentence is the means of conveying the beats, first to other characters within the story and then to the reader or, should the story be a play or filmed narrative, the viewer.

Riffing on an observation made by Mark Twain in his memorable essay, "Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses," story that does not have beats or spiraling schemes of sentences is dead on arrival. Story must be something sensate and with dimension. It must reveal a constant state of urgent agenda. If it does not, then it is no longer story, it is description.

Story must have an affecting effect. Otherwise, it experiences cardiac arrest, then dies on the spot. If there had been sufficient affect, the reader/viewer might skip ahead in hopes of finding more. 

No hint of empathy for the reader or viewer? Bring forth the funeral meats of sacred tradition. And yes, tofu meats will suffice for vegan audiences. Whatever the substance of story, it must include the ingredients of empathy and urgency.

Anyone of third or fourth grade education can write a sentence. Those who write must pay heed to the best possible order of sentences in which empathy, urgency, and agenda appear. But these appearances arrive in the spaces between sentences. They are evoked rather than described. We must see them in the same spirit as the discovery of probing the spaces between cushions in a sofa, then finding loose change.

Story is the loose change strewn among the cushions.

Story is discovery.

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