Sunday, June 16, 2013

Stories That Are Not Stories #1

A couple days ago, I went to bed early, but found myself too tired to go to sleep. I had enough time to read 2 stories I had recently purchased from a regional publisher.

After reading, I slept through the night and found myself thinking about those 2 stories all the next day. They had both left me disappointed. I felt I hadn't gotten any ending.

Today I will analyze why Story #1 disappointed me, and next week, I'll examine Story #2.

Story #1 was written in an old style, as something that might have been written in the 19th century. The scene was a dinner party, and the 'action' of the people attending this dinner consisted of taking bites and refusing to acknowledge the existence of a newly discovered tribe, even though one member of that tribe was seated at the table with them. The 'story' of the discovery of that tribe was told in flashback by the two anthropologists who had searched for them. The tribe had not wanted to be found, and had always - throughout the centuries - dealt with strangers coming to find them, as well as tribe members who wanted to leave. Before the entire story is told to the dinner party, there is a scream in another part of the house, which everybody rushes to investigate, and when they find ... apparently nothing, they discover the tribe member has disappeared without a trace. End of story.

No wonder I was disappointed by that one. I can drag myself through stories written in the 19th century, but it isn't easy. The style of writing has changed so dramatically. These days, authors are expected to "show, don't tell". But in Story #1, even the bits of information in the flashbacks were told to the reader, not shown. And since the scene was presented as a dinner party, it was just one big 'info dump', another thing that is frowned on these days. Finally, although the reader has a really strong suspicion what has happened to the tribal member, it is left undetermined. Like so many of today's horror movies, I was left wondering when the 'monster' would make its next appearance. To me, an unclear ending is not an ending.

No comments:

Post a Comment