Response: Ira Glass on Storytelling

I get where he is getting at, where there is an action and reaction/reflection of an action. Then again perhaps he’s looking at it from a different perspective than I am. He’s a broadcaster for a talk show, my background in this area comes from sequential art and animation? What he’s saying, like being critical, and hitting a plateau is sort of general, it can be said for any creative endeavor. ¬†As for the matter of “good taste” personally, I think is subjective.

For example, I like what are generally considered ‘bad’ or ‘campy’ films; Rocky Horror Picture Show,¬†Vincent Price’s¬†House on Haunted Hill, Ed Wood’s¬†Plan 9 From Outer Space¬†or¬†Bride of the Monster,¬†Manos: The Hands of Fate and the like. To me, that’s good! The weirder, the campier, the more I can riff at it, the better! Someone else, may agree, or on the other end think my tastes is terrible and should never be near any production lest I sully the purity of cinema. I’ll agree with Glass with one point on that is that we get more cognizant, or refined with figuring out what is the uninteresting parts or our flubs and failures in a piece, at least. But I think preference and “taste” is very much subjective.

(An interesting side note:¬†I have been listening to the audiobook of Greg Sestero’s¬†The Disaster Artist to pass my time during my commute, and hearing his personal anecdotes on filming that production. Greg describes one shot where the¬†script editor and lead cameraman– Hollywood veterans– ¬†would make comments about how terrible a shot was, while Tommy Wiseau himself thought it was the best thing ever. ¬†It is equal parts insightful and amusing and worth a read or listen in my opinion, regardless on how you feel about¬†The Room.)

His mention of a two step breakdown seems a little generalized to me. I get where he was coming from with the three part breakdown like a school essay, but not every story is an essay. I suppose in the matter of nonfiction there’s less leeway, but as someone coming from background more influenced by fiction there’s a lot more to it compared to say, a news report. (If I may be honest, reporting ¬†or lecturing factual information might actually be the more challenging than writing fiction simply because one has to make empirical facts engaging to the audience and simply can’t pull things from your mind.) At any case, where I come from, you have the base start-climax-end, at the simplest, and more complex ways if your narrative is more character or story-based. For example, From the ancient Gilgamesh to the more modern Luke Skywalker,¬†The Hero’s Journey being by far one of the most popular narrative structures used since the beginning of the history of narrative.

But I could on and on about that.

In short. I agree with many of his points, some I don’t but I realize it’s likely because we come from two differing creative backgrounds with different perspectives. And that’s not a bad thing, to be honest.

And I couldn’t find a way to segue this into the conversation, here is Pixar Stroyboard artist Emma Coats’ Tips on Storytelling. I would like to just simply share that as fun bit of extra information.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.