Tuesday, December 05, 2023

Modern Storytelling

 Just a random thought for the day as I had no creative energy for any other post.  I recently re-watched Groundhog Day for the first time in decades and it was as good as I remembered it to be.  It was a delight to be able to share with my teenager as well.  One thing stuck out to me at the end of the movie: it never explains the mystery of how it all happened and that is part of what makes it such a great movie.

 I think modern story telling, especially in games, could learn a lot from Groundhog Day.  So many movies, books, and games go out of their way trying to explain the mystery.  Anyone remember the Lost television show and it's eventual attempts at explaining the great mysteries of the show?  I do and it just didn't work.  

 This doesn't mean always explaining the mystery is a bad idea. Sometimes story tellers nail it.  If you've played Bioshock there is a lot of mystery to start that game and eventually it pays off in an amazing reveal.  So it can be done right, but it so often is not or the mystery is explained when it didn't need to be.

 Brandon Sanderson is an author who I feel falls into this issue a good bit in his stories.  He painstakingly goes over details of his worlds to the point where there is little mystery left and when mystery is a big aspect of his story, such as in Elantris, the eventual explanation was so unsatisfying (really; it was just a drawing a single line!?!?!).  I still like Brandon's books, but I do wish he'd sometimes just leave the mystery to us vs a need to have everything fit neat and tidy into the Cosmere.

 So if you are an author, game writer, or screen writer please take a moment to consider why a mystery needs to be explained at all because chances are it doesn't need to be. Sometimes its better to just not know so we can enjoy the story.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Join the conversation; leave a comment!