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Kurt Vonnegut explains drama, by Derek Sivers


Stashed in: General Wisdom, life, Stories, Conflict, Words!, Awesome, Charts!, Books!, Writing!, Drama, Best PandaWhale Posts, Vonnegut, Elephant in the Room

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This explains soooo much!

“But because we grew up surrounded by big dramatic story arcs in books and movies, we think our lives are supposed to be filled with huge ups and downs! So people pretend there is drama where there is none.”

That's why people invent fights. That's why we're drawn to sports. That's why we act like everything that happens to us is such a big deal.

We're trying to make our life into a fairy tale.

So the essence of dramatic narrative is conflict?

And the essence of tragic narrative is perapetaia, or reversal of circumstances, where the final arc is not up to ecstasy but rather down to misery?

Lol. Or overcoming adversity....

Peripeteia isn't just down to misery... it's REVERSAL. Sometimes the reversal is to glory rather than misery. For example, the Iliad centers on Achilles -- who, it has been foretold, will either choose an early but glorious death or long life without glory. For almost the whole of the tale, he (poutily) decides on the latter course; but after the death of Patroclus, he is hell-bent on the former. Thus he is a tragic hero.

One writing podcast I listened to cites two rules of thumb:

1) Ask, "What's the worst thing that could happen to my protagonist?" Then write it.

2) When in doubt, have someone burst through the door with a gun.

macbeth.jpg

All by memory too, BTW. ;-) (p.s., yea I know it's stake, but stupid word correction.)

Mother of God.

Greg, that's amazing.

And further: as we are wealthier, and as we develop new entertainment technology, and as our back-catalog of available entertainment grows, we are spending more time attentive to (if not immersed inside) contrived, plotted experiences than ever before. The good guys (almost) always win, or there's another retry available from the last save-point.

Might this be twisting our intuitions about what's possible or practical, for example in politics or even personal relationships?

Yes. See the movie Looper for a set of ridiculous contrivances that all come to a point at the end.

Vonnegut’s zany and surreal world reflects the absurdity of our own and really bended my mind to different modes of thinking. His work has inspired my own visual arts for quite some time and I created a tribute illustration of the author with the help of an old typewriter. You can see it at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2011/11/happy-birthday-mr-vonnegut.html and tell me how his work and words also affected you.

so I had a really sexy response to the original response "This explains soooo much!

“But because we grew up surrounded by big dramatic story arcs in books and movies, we think our lives are supposed to be filled with huge ups and downs! So people pretend there is drama where there is none.”

That's why people invent fights. That's why we're drawn to sports. That's why we act like everything that happens to us is such a big deal.

We're trying to make our life into a fairy tale."however, sadly I use Chrome browser and in my return to this page from my internets search for a good sexy link to insert, my cursor landed on the 'x' of my tab and I lost my response.  many of us here have been through this at least once if we have been using Chrome for any reasonable amount of time so here's the deal; without conflict there is no narrative.  Drama has been known to drive story arcs for thousands of years but how to develop this in the dramatic process is reserved for the few.  Shakespeare was used as an example here, good job he's a preeminent story teller of all time and great for discussions such as this.  I on the other hand will sit back and watch others drive drama in new directions on TV... walking dead, game of thrones here I come. 

http://www.dailywritingtips.com/7-types-of-narrative-conflict/

Walking Dead and Game of Thrones have a lot in common:

Multiple conflict story lines at various levels of threat, from the big looming ones to the ever present dangers to the person vs person individual conflicts. 

They also both up the ante by having important main characters die regularly so no one is safe.

They can get away with this thanks to a tapestry of overlapping story arcs.

And it has a lot of emotional resonance when a major character we like dies. 

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