Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Plots That Twist Your Mind like a Pretzel...

...takes skill to plan out and write. A well-written story like that makes you pause at the end and think, "Wow, I didn't see that coming. How'd they do that?!" It takes organization, foresight, and a somewhat twisted sense of humor. Yet it still needs to be readable (in the case of television/film, it needs to be watchable), or your audience will not only be confused, but they'll lose interest.

My favorite examples of these story arcs are in television. Lost by J.J. Abrams comes to mind, as well as the recent seasons of Doctor Who, written by Steven Moffat. Certain elements are carried over from episode to episode, that may or may not be significant to the overall storyline. Viewers pore over every minute of film and spin all sorts of theories of what might come next. In effect, the audience become part of the story themselves. They share their speculations with each other over the Internet and spin their own myths.

And of course, they tune in to next week's episode, to see whether or not their suppositions are true. They keep coming back, which helps the show's ratings and its popularity. Each new chapter unfolds week by week. Plot twists keep things interesting until the season (or as the British call it, the series) finale.

On the other hand, the writers shouldn't make the storyline too complicated. It becomes muddled and hard to follow, and once a reader/viewer is lost, so is their interest in the whole plot. Too many "Aha! Gotcha!" moments can strain even the most flexible viewer's imagination (and patience).

Am I guilty of the 'weekly speculation' of my favorite shows? Definitely. I've got my own theories of what's going on in the current Doctor Who series, but I'm keeping mum for now. Spoilers and all that.

All original writing and art copyright A. Dameron 2000-2011

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