Groan of Arc

Somewhat uncharacteristically, I’ve been watching a lot of Hollywood movies recently, and noticed that several of them tell their story almost exactly the same way. They begin at some critical juncture, then backtrack to show how they got to that point, and then take it from there to the finale. This was true for The Wolf of Wall Street, American Hustle, Twelve Years a Slave, and Limitless. Every single time, the same formula. Now, I enjoyed all of these movies, so this is not a criticism, just an observation. Apparently, this methodology is in now in fashion. At some point it might become tiresome and so tacky that no one will do it anymore, in which case it could become a sort of nostalgia touchstone, like men wearing hats or lighting matches off of their fingertips.

It’s a commonplace among the literary online circles I follow that the artist must respect the audience, the writer must respect the reader, and may not for any reason upset the applecart. Readers do not want unsatisfactory endings. Readers do not want protagonists with whom they cannot sympathize. Readers want a beginning, a middle, and an end. Readers this and readers that. As a writer, you must give them what they want, and you can know precisely what it is they want by studying the popular writers who are quite adept at providing just that. But readers are also fashion victims, and what they want is what they want now. It’s clear that a bestseller from 1964 would not be a bestseller in 2014, not by a long shot, no more than a film or music from that year would have a ghost of a chance in the current market.

These literary forums and communities and circles are primarily concerned with the profession of writing, of course, and I don’t even know why I read or follow them, because the business of writing is of absolutely no interest to me, but it’s hard to find groups or associations of amateur writers like myself, amateurs who are also interested in innovation, creativity, experimentation, and just plain fun (if you know of any groups lie this, please tell me about them!). Writers in general it seems take the whole writing thing way, way too seriously. They remind me of carpenters, not even craftsmen but industry types, always fussing about today’s modern living room styles. How does one go about “world-building”? What are the essentials of plot development? Is it ever wise to introduce a female character without commenting on her cup size? You want to have a magazine for contemporary writers somewhat along the lines of Cosmopolitan magazine.

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Listen. For Guaranteed Success begin with a critical juncture somewhere in the middle of the story, then backtrack from the beginning until you get to that point, and take it from there! It worked for nearly every Academy Award nominated motion picture in 2014. It can work for you too!

Angela started into the abyss. Jumping would solve at one of her problems, but would Arthur ever understand? Fuck Arthur, she decided, and took another step towards the edge.





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