POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE
Painting From Corners and Cutting Off Branches
By Nandy Ekle
I love a good mystery show, especially if it has a twist. And sometimes the biggest twist is actually no twist at all. Here’s how it works.
You begin building the story in the usual way, introduce the character who is amazingly handsome and brilliant but who also has a sad little flaw. He reveals this flaw but justifies himself by listing the rules he has set for himself to control it. Then we go through a day or two of his life to see how it works. As the action/drama builds, we suddenly realize there is no way out for our character. He either has to break his own rules, or he has to give up. The more the story progresses, the tighter the noose gets and we are sure he’s about to be undone. Finally, at the end, just before he gives up, the light comes on and you realize what was forgotten. One of the smaller rules in his self-imposed control. As soon as that loophole opens up, he wins and lives happily ever after.
But then there’s the story line where he has to cut off his nose to spite his face. This is the character who does everything right. But the problems he faces grow huge enough and chase him out on a branch. You know he will have to do something, but everything he tries is thwarted. And in the end, he has to cut the branch he’s hanging from and drop to the abyss. But the twist is that he only drops a couple of feet. That’s when you gulp a deep breath of air and fall back in your chair.
This is great writing.
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