Thursday, August 29, 2013

Following the Story

What kind of stories do you follow?

It used to be that housewives would watch soap operas daily while the kids were in school and their husbands at work. I know a couple of people who're news junkies and trace stories from beginning to end so that they can be informed. Once upon a time I had comic book subscriptions so that I wouldn't miss an installment of my favorite mutants' adventures.

I'm curious about Stephen King's forthcoming book Doctor Sleep as it continues the story begun in The Shining way back in the '70s. I kind of always wondered what happened to Danny after the traumatic events of that book and now I'm going to get to find out.

Now that we have the goodness of the Internet, we can follow our video stories much more easily.

Maybe that's what's driven me as a writer, wanting to know what happens next.

When one of our stories is suddenly stopped through cancellation or the discontinued interest of the creator(s) it can be distressing. That would explain fan outcries over things like Firefly and any number of other stories, wouldn't it? We want to know what happens next.

But what about when a story ends? Harry Potter's exploits wound up. 100 Bullets ended. David Chase's ending for The Sopranos upset quite a few people. Still does, as far as I can tell. Investors in stories can be fierce when things don't go the way they're expected to.

Investors - fans - can definitely influence creators and they will feel free to tear down those same creators if they don't get what they want. Thanks, the Internet.

We say we want stories that engage us, that take us away from the grind of our daily lives. You know, clicking through on the latest doings of celebrities who have no effect on us whatsoever. Jobs. Family. That stuff.

What I'm getting at here is that the stories that are worth following are the ones that are interesting and take us away from our lives. The stories that aren't worth following are the equivalent of empty calories, Twinkies or candy bars. They offer us a distraction but in the end there's nothing there but something to deride or ridicule. They're not good stories.

So why stay interested in them? Why follow them?