Monday, November 25, 2013

"It's All Over Now!" - My Gratitude for the Power of Storytelling

Many years ago, at a screening of the movie Die Hard, there was a person a few rows behind me who, about 20 minutes into the movie when Bruce Willis is surprised by a bad guy, said very loudly and full of anxiety, sadness and surety, "It's all over now!" He totally believe what he said, too. You could tell. 

Now screenwriter-moviegoer-me was sitting there thinking "dude, we're 20 minutes into the movie. It cannot be all over now!" And yet, throughout the film, each time something happened, that gentleman behind me was convinced that the end was nigh.

And you know what?

He loved that movie. And he experienced it exactly as the story was meant to be experienced.

Sometimes, I forget the sheer power of storytelling, and how grateful I am that others have mastered that art and that I get to enjoy it. Too often, I fear, I get caught up in the trappings - the fact that a movie has just started or that I'm only halfway through a book - rather than the experience.

I got a reminder of this yesterday when I saw the movie of Catching Fire. A few rows behind me were an older couple who clearly did not know the book at all. I like to think the male part of the couple was Mr.-It's-All-Over-Now.

The couple were talkers, and their comments were mostly those of discovery ("Oh, there's only one name they can pick from! It's gonna be her!") and of curiousity ("Is she dead? I think she's dead."). And they reminded me again that those who just let the narrative flow over them get a tremendously powerful experience.

The ability to lose ourselves in story is one that I'm grateful for. It is what powers my own writing, of course, and I need to remember to turn off the creator brain when I am reading or watching or listening. I need to stay connected to that power, and I'm grateful that I got a reminder of that yesterday.

And by the way, she wasn't dead. I knew that, of course... because I'd read the book. Yet I hope when I read it, I asked the same questions as that couple, even if I didn't say them out loud!


Linda B said...

I really enjoyed this post! Just wanted to let you know that nearly everything is about the story. It's how I approached pretty much everything in my classroom, too, even the math problems-about the story! It's a great way to think!

WriterSideUp said...

Greg, this is so true. It's for that same reason I never want to know the end or what's coming. I want to be taken for a ride in which I TRY to anticipate the next turn, and am either right or surprised. BOTH are wonderful :)

P.S. Did you ever see my "Ghostbusters" comment on that guest blog you did? Just curious! I thought you'd like it :)

middle grade ninja said...

Great post. Very important to remember this. When I was a kid, I saw Batman Forever and screamed when Bruce Wayne got shot. My friend glared at me as Batman had also been shot in both of the previous films. These days, I know Batman's going to win going in and it's still fun, but less so. Much more exciting back when I believed there was a chance the hero might die.

Charles Waters said...

Well said (or written as it were). Finished the 14 FIBS and loved it!!! PINCUS POWER!

CS Perryess said...

Amen to storytelling. Thanks for the post.