Saturday, May 31, 2008

Blogger isn't letting me comment... maybe a post will work

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Crazy Western Martian here... but that first go-round with our paragraph created, for me, a sense of melancholy and tone. Why isn't that a helpful way to advance the story?

Well, if you can justify it, it's got some meaning, right? But is it the meaning you want at this very juncture in this story? I think melancholy might not be the aim of this story-- it's about a wedding, so it's probably a comedy. And juxtaposition and timing are all important in a comedy. I'd say paragraphing appropriately is MORE, not less, important, with comedy, because paragraphs are how we do "timing" in print.

So the point is... does the paragraphing convey what you want? Not "convey something" -- it's always going to convey something because a paragraph is a signifier of meaning, and readers are always going to find some meaning in the way you paragraph. But is that the meaning you want for this juncture in this story? If this is a comedy, I would want the paragraph to set up (probably) a joke or comic moment to come.

That initial paragraph-- read again-- yes, has some existential weight. There is no meaning because there is no meaning-- life is meaningless, grass is green, there are a lot of reasons but not worth speaking aloud. :)

Just right for a novel about a male college professor who didn't get tenure. Maybe it even ends with a wedding!



Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Blogger's got a personality, that's for sure...

Could a good author take that sense of melancholy and turn it on its head and come out with humor?

Likewise, in a comedy, does EVERY single paragraph have to be funny? Obviously not, so why can't we have a bit of a moody narrator? It'd be hard to pull off, sure, but can it be done at all?

Sorry. My brain's in hyperdrive today. I'm not sure why. Stanley Cup Fever, maybe?

Edittorrent said...

Well, the question is-- what do you want THIS paragraph to signify? If you mean to, say, juxtapose the reasons why with the reasons why not to comic effect, then you'd be unhappy to hear that your paragraph had the effect of making the reader feel kind of a melancholy sense of sorrow. A good author, presumably, would do everything to some effect. I think that's the kicker, in a way, and I shouldn't state that categorically, because many writers do things instinctively and don't think analytically about the effect on the reader.

So yes, a paragraph of melancholy could lead to a comic effect. But a some point, presumably, there has to be a comic setup. Does it work? And I have to say, it's the reader, alas, who determines that-- especially with comedy. I have read scenes which were supposed to be comic, but were done with a sort of leaden hand, and didn't come across as funny.

I'm not sure what the problem is. I tend to go with Eileen Dreyer with this-- we're either funny or we're not. We can't make our work funny. We can make it FUNNIER with techniques (like the rule of three), but comedy is so much a way of looking at reality, and if you don't have that, write something else.... hard, but I think true. What do you think? Can you make yourself funny? Can a good dramatic author make a passage funny if she's not comic by nature?

IT seems so cruel! But Eileen is brilliant, and very funny, and I tend to think she knows.

Natalie Hatch said...

Sorry to come in on the conversation but I've read some very black humour stories before and I've seen quite morbid issues/ideas turned into very funny situations/storylines.
Perhaps if the author is setting up for a great gag? Without reading the following paragraphs I wouldn't know how to take the first. Hitchhikers guide and the ever lovely depressed robot which came in handy.
okay I'll now step back out of the convo, thanks for listening.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Oh, I'm not trying to dig on Eileen at all! I'm just playing with ideas, trying things on to see what fits and what I can learn.

In fact, now you've got me curious to read the whole thing and see how this plays out.