Friday, May 29, 2015

How To Better Appreciate Stories

   A few months ago, I reviewed a book on Into the Book. I liked it, but I thought it was not very well written, or a well told story. I still think that to some extent, but when I listened to a podcast about the book, my mind was changed.
    Why was my mind changed? Because as I listened to what Jeff Lane was talking about, I realized he knew how to write a story. That doesn't mean he did it well, but he knew what he was trying to do. He worked to circumvent tropes, to avoid as many cliches as possible. Readers can argue about how well he did that, but there was thought put into it. Before listening to Jeff Lane talk about his book, I was not going to read the second book in the series. After listening to him talk, I felt a sense of trust in the author. I decided that, because of his understanding of how stories should work and how to put together a story, I would read the second book. And I did. But that's another review. Still, my main point was that learning more about the story and author gave me a better appreciation of the story.
   I'll give another example: The Phantom Menace. (Yes, I'm circling back to the Star Wars Prequels. Again.) People have lots of issues with the Phantom Menace, mainly the CG. However, I recently watched the commentary for the film and I was blown away. George Lucas and the rest of the production team talk about how much effort they put into making sure the CG is realistic. Not just the CG, but Lucas talks about how he sets up the camera so that it doesn't look like a staged scene, but looks like someone just happened to be filming while stuff happened. There's a ton of other stuff in the commentary which, while it didn't make the film perfect, really gave me a new appreciation of the film.
   Now, of course, there are those who don't want to go to the effort to try and appreciate a story they disliked. Okay, if were talking about a movie that's almost universally despised, that's fine. However, what about a classic? There are some classics I've read and just did not like. However, I've decided that they are worth the work of trying to find out why so many people love them. I will do the research and the work necessary to truly comprehend and appreciate the value of a classic. That may require rereading, finding study notes to go with the book, or finding articles that reveal some of the more confusing aspects.
   So when you're reading, don't just read. Think about what you read, do a little bit of research, and then relish in that new sense of appreciation you have for the stories you read, watch, or listen to.

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