What makes a story? A beginning, middle, and end? Introduction, conflict, and resolution? Well, yes. Of course. But stories don’t always look like that. Sometimes the details are implied or even, the audience or reader just sort of forgives you the detail. What was the big disaster that led to the desperate landscape of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road? It was never specified.
What about the Tardis in Dr Who? Is it a phone box? Nope, it’s a police box. It was meant to have a stealth shape shifting ability, but after running out of budget, the police box shape remained. A handy cloak when in 60’s Britain where the show was first aired. Not so much now, or in dimension X or the Cretaceous Period or Feudal Japan… You get the idea. But we forgive them. We even make up reasons to excuse these transgressions.
Take the Klingons. Star Trek’s writers eventually came up with a reason for the changing physical look of the Federation’s interstellar rivals in the a-bit-rubbish Star Trek Enterprise. Fans, though, had been making reasons up all by themselves for years. They had been able to suspend their disbelief and forgive the obvious writing holes because… because what? Was it the tech? Or the journeys? Was it the mysterious planets?
Well, in part, yes. Mainly, though, it was the people. It was the characters. We don’t invest in another half-arsed super hero film because we believe in the reality of the fantasy. We invest because we see the humanity of the characters, because we see ourselves. As a writer, if you get that wrong, you could have the greatest budget of all time and yet nobody will buy into it. A text-book example is episodes One Two and Three of the Star Wars saga. Those prequels gave us underwritten characters who seemed as moronic as the ‘comedy’ battle droids with which they somehow seemed challenged by.
I’m not going to send you to some long drawn out character based drama, or even a short story or novel. This week, I’m gonna go from the serious to the silly. So, let’s watch a couple of Vine reels together.
Each ‘short’ is six seconds long, a feature or constraint of the micro blogging site. Some of my favourites have been put into a YouTube video below.
Each one is comedic, but also, each one somehow conveys a story in six seconds. How do they do that? Have a think, maybe let me know. Or don’t. However you want to approach these micro stories; enjoy.
Also: definitely NSFW