Friday, May 06, 2011

Strangeness in Stories

I'm putting together a workshop on storycraft for inclusion in a filmmaking course later in the year. Preparing the worksheets has set me thinking about the question of 'strangeness' in stories.

When people describe the archetypal patterns found in traditional stories they sometimes talk about the 'ordinary world' and the 'strange world'. The ordinary world is the home life of the protagonist before he/she starts the quest. The strange world is the unfamiliar landscape the protagonist will pass through before reaching the goal, whatever that may be.

This transition from ordinary to strange isn't confined to traditional hero epics. It comes up again and again in modern movies and novels.

The ordinary world may not be ordinary to us, the audience. But it is ordinary to the protagonist. If the protagonist is a racing driver, 'ordinary' means hurtling around the track at 150mph.

In a similar way, the strange world may not be strange to us, the audience, but will definitely be strange to the protagonist. One of the most important qualities of the strange world is that the rules the protagonist used to live by no longer hold good.

1 comment:

www. said...

Mmm. This sounds really interesting. It is so much of what happens to us as we pass through life day to day and so much of what inspires me to write.