Sunday, January 23, 2011

Some Obsessive Mumbo Jumbo and Insights courtesy of Fringe...

Joshua Jackson aka Fringe's Peter Bishop, photo snagged from Internet by Denny S. Bryce

Let’s talk about the psychology of obsession. Not in a clinical sense, or the "I need more medication to control my desires to repeat, repeat, repeat a small chore to the point of nausea." Although a true obsessive compulsive might find this scenario orgasmic. 

I want to chat about obsession as it applies to writing. Can an obsession make for good story telling? As writers, can we use our natural predisposition to obsess (write, rewrite, write, rewrite), as a guide to the stories we want to write and enjoy reading and/or watching?

Ah! The hypothesis – how convoluted was that?

Well, it’s what’s on my mind this lovely, freezing Sunday afternoon as I work on my application (the mystery application will be disclosed soon enough). Recently, I added a new TV show to my list, and it got my brain racing as to why I do this, repeatedly, and how it comes into play with the way I plot the stories I write and what’s important to me when I read a book or watch TV (or see a movie - The Fighter? brilliant).

A quickie on my television obsessions  - the usual: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel (thank you Joss Whedon).  Then Moonlight (too pretty not to love) and Farscape, which still occupies a very special place in my brain. And now, FringeWhat makes Fringe unique, besides great acting, stories, and it's appreciation of classic sci-fi, is that the male lead, Joshua Jackson, although a handsome man (okay, damn handsome), is not the hottie that usually drives me. I'm a Spike, Angel, Mick St. John or John Creighton kind of gal, you know the type.

But Fringe is about characters, their relationships, emotions and choices - and so far, every episode in its two and a half years carries threw on that promise.

My stories, even if I say so myselfJ, have complicated plots and I do play around with notion of 'high concept' story telling. But no matter how intriguing or off the wall, a plot does not a story make. Characters and relationships and emotions are at the soul of a good story – and whatever medium is used to deliver the tale – books, plays, screenplays, lyrics – it’s the writer’s responsibility to get that aspect of the story right, their obsession to reach that goal makes the difference.

I love puzzles. Pieces falling together that create the big picture.  My stories tend to go about putting the pieces of a puzzle together. But in that puzzle, I'm sometimes challenged with the characterizations and how my main character functions as a puzzle piece or the owner of the big picture. Then where does the emotion come from? That's what I need to be obsessing about, you know?

What obsession drives your story telling?

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