Amid my morning Internet rounds, I decided to stop at StumpleUpon. This can be dreadfully dangerous and lead to hours of useless information gathering, but the long list of things I needed to do have helped me from clicking the “Stumble!” button repeatedly…. so far.
The first hit: Mark Twain’s Rules of Writing.
Though I think this is mostly a jab at James Fenimore Cooper, the points are still valid and deserve some pondering. Since Twain has several to mull over, we’ll break them up and discuss a few at a time.
Today’s Rules:1. A tale shall accomplish something and arrive somewhere. 2. The episodes of a tale shall be necessary parts of the tale, and shall help develop it.
Though there are always exceptions to the rule, I agree with these two guidelines.
Stories should go somewhere. Not necessarily a physical somewhere, but in terms of character development and plot, something needs to happen. There should be some goal. Some change. Something. If The Hobbit were just about the dwarves and Gandalf showing up at Bilbo’s house, politely but rambunctiously making themselves at home, presenting their proposition for Bilbo to join them on their journey to the Lonely Mountain, and Bilbo refusing and continuing on with his happy little life in Bag End, it wouldn’t be much of a story. We need out of Bilbo’s stuffy little hole. We need to see the dwarves strive toward their goal. We need to see Bilbo change.
If you’ve seen the newest Pirates of the Caribbean movie, then you can sympathize with the second rule. Not to spoil it, but there’s a short romance that occurs (don’t worry, Jack Sparrow isn’t involved… and neither are Will or Elizabeth) and fails to go much of anywhere. It presents possibilities that could have been explored, but they never are (and I doubt they will be if there is another film). And the lack of depth and relevance left the posse I went with and me wondering why it was included in the first place.
Those are my quick thoughts. What do you think?