Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Who was the first person that said every story has to have a conflict, a climax, and a resolution, in just those words? Is the structure a helpful guide or a tyranny? Whenever I hear people insist on its necessity, as if they're pounding their fingers on bibles, I wonder if they're as absolute about every other aspect of their lives. Their laundry, for instance. Separating darks and whites. Washing clothes with cold water labels in cold water. Not using bleach if it says no bleach. You get the picture.

Decades ago, I enjoyed the first twenty or so pages of The Hobbit, when Bilbo Baggins was surrounded by the many comforts within his hobbit home. The description made me want to move in for a long stay. But Tolkien had other ideas. There must be a quest, a journey, a conflict, a climax! I'm sorry to say I disliked the book. I would have preferred to hang out with the hobbits.

Although the stories I write contain the required elements, oral narratives--the kinds of stories we spit out and chew over everyday in conversation-- often don't. So what's the big deal? (I'm leaving Virginia Woolf and James Joyce out of this conversation, by the way, though I wonder why writers don't try experimental fiction to a greater degree.) Your thoughts?


Anonymous normaan said...

... " though I wonder why writers don't try experimental fiction to a greater degree..."
Must agree with this,but the reader should be kept in mind. Joyce was read for the "dirty" bits, and Woolf an interlectual.Personally I used to like Graham Green with his hidden Catholic agenda, with Ginsberg's poetry a usefull place to start.?

8:52 PM  
Anonymous Kyle Foley said...

its possible to write a story without a conflict, ie ulysses but i think it is impossible to write a story without a point. even if there is no point such as in zazi dans le metro or waiting for godot, the theme of absurdity is in itself a point. what's real frustrating is when a book thinks it has a point but it really doesn't. i write experimental fiction but i experiment with style not with plot or subject - here's an example: to mix among the manglemento of chaos, to expose man’s larceny, his lust-bulls and his absurdity, to portray the bipedal tool-smith as corrupt, mentally handicapped and dire – this then is fìnnegans wake, categorically the most convincing portrait of absurdity ever written. but what humor! what laughter! although this work concerns pessimism and the inevitability of crash and foam it nevertheless resounds in a splurge of joke! this baffling maze, once understood, cannot help but entertain us as we watch it meander from one scene to the next, each portrait as absurd as the one proceeding. begin with the seventh chapter, the easiest chapter.

kyle foley

8:36 AM  
Blogger Larry T. said...

(2nd try)

Nabokov, in his guise as college professor, used to tell his students to read his assignments (usually novels) twice--once for the rudiments of narrative and plot; the second for the deeper pleasures of description, precision of detail, and the joy of language.

4:00 PM  
Blogger Raven said...

I really enjoyed reading your blog, my site is about Scrapped Princess if you like Scrapped Princess you should have a look at my site!

10:06 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home