3.06.2010

Horses between the highway and the Holiday Inn


Leela mentioned needing to make a story without "Hesitation, Repetition or Deviation." This catch phrase, from the BBC radio's Just a Minute game show strikes us a perfect metaphor for a certain kind of storytelling- the Mametian drive towards the hot center of the drama. It's something she and I can both use a bit more of. It struck me as a perfect instructional phrase.

Tell the story committed to main idea. (No hesitation.)
Tell the story economically. (No repetition.)
Tell the story quickly. (No deviation.)

Of course, the counter is just as valid, if not more glorious. Just harder to teach. Think of Tristram Shandy, full of all three. The wandering IS the story. The deviation is the point, the hesitation is the laugh, the repetition is the music.

I'm sitting at a hotel pool looking out at the highway that leads to Dulles airport in DC. There are 4 horses grazing in the small field between highway and service road. What on earth are they doing there?

You have to allow for surprises. In a lot of playwriting and screenwriting books, you'll see the authors argue for knowing your central premise such as "Ultimate ambition leads to destruction" (Macbeth.)

But not enough beginning authors know how to allow themselves to follow distraction, and to connect images otherwise unconnected.

Hesitation, repetition, deviation: It's Waiting for Godot.

The horses graze on the smoggy grass. A plane flies low overhead. Children splash while learning how to kick. I breathe the humid bleachy pool air and drift to sleep.

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