Great Vine

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

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Raining Correspondence

It’s raining today. I haven’t been for a walk. I’ve been brushing past the walls of the house, going from room to room.

I’ve completed a machine load of washing, watched the latest posts from Casey Neistat, Molly Burke and Doug Demoro. I’ve watched short reportage on what doctors in the United States think of the health care system there (universal healthcare would be better), on what Jammidodger thinks about being asked whether he has a penis or not (don’t ask him) and a sci-fi short called Good Business (was great).

I’ve read another section of Olga Tokarczuk’s book, Flights. I’ve completed a couple of challenges on FORZA Horizon before my ageing Xbox 360 crashed claiming it couldn’t read the disc (the game is saved onto the hard-drive via download).

I’ve rewatched an episode of Star Trek TNG where Crusher falls in love with an alien who sort of dies but then doesn’t. It’s not a favourite (Gates McFadden never really seemed to believe her character).

I went upstairs again to my room, tried to fix my tripod (I made it much, much worse) then opened this laptop I’m typing into now and stared at a blank WordPress draft for fifteen minutes.

Then a sound.

Our officious little spring-loaded letter box snaps shut. It’s probably jus…

Oh, a letter. In it I find a note from a friend and two bookmarks. Bought back in April, the laminated cards have been packed and unpacked in Cuba, Mexico, USA, Japan, China, New Zealand, Qatar and finally back to the UK where they eventually found themselves in a recycled envelope being brought back into the world with my face looking down.

For the first time since waking up, I smile. I cook a stodgy lunch (bought burgers in brioche buns with some home-made caramelised onions (there probably isn’t any other type) and curly fries, enjoying being fifteen again.

The rain has cleared and I walk out into the humid day, finding the library shut and the tourists thick on the ground. It’s okay, though. Somebody sent me a letter today.

We take communication easily; we’re in constant touch with everyone. Virtually connected to anywhere; we can see or hear anything we choose. We still value touch, though – just take a look at the recent increase in sales of vinyl.

Do me a favour. Sit down, pull out some scrap paper (you don’t need to buy new) do something with it and send it to somebody. I know they’ll love it.

Bookmarks from Lauren