Thursday, April 23, 2009

150 Words. Go.

I read F*** My Life . It's a great blog in which people summarize the tragedy of a recent experience in 2-3 sentences. Short ones. 

It's tragic. What happens to people is tragic. Sometimes it's slapstick comedy tragic (walking into a wall), sometimes it's horrible tragic (divorce announcements by text message) and sometimes it's just, unthinkable (being mistaken for a transvestite.)  And sometimes it is downright disgusting (no examples needed.) 

What I love about it is not the Shadenfreude of other people's tragedy. Rather, I'm intrigued by the art of storytelling. The best ones save the punchline for the end. So, the story runs:

A mildly odd thing happened. Then another. Then another. I am a natural-born female. FML. 

Then, as the reader, you have to go back an reinterpret the story in the context of the new fact, making it all not just mildly odd but downright horrific. It's basically the Keyser Soze storytelling style, and it is remarkably effective.  So much better than the sequential style that begins with "my new prescription glasses fell in the toilet.

I'm intrigued by storytelling styles these days, even though I can't write a plot to save my soul. The other good source for stories is The Moth  podcasts, where 15 minute stories are told live without notes. They run the gamut from tragic to funny to thought-provoking. And, like FML, in that short segment, you can really learn a great deal about how good stories sound.

And really, isn't much of life about presenting a story in a compelling way?

1 comment:

Priya said...

see i don't like fuck my life at all. i really prefer the hindustan times section called agony aunt.