Any rational adult knows that a lived life follows no clear character arc; change comes fitfully, if at all. Stories—at least most traditional western narratives—are designed to represent a version of human growth that isn’t real. This is beginning to bother me.
I think it may be a lingering effect of having watched (and thought about) Annie Baker’s play CIRCLE MIRROR TRANSFORMATION, which doesn’t fall prey to what I’ve started to think about as the character arc problem. Another reason to admire what she’s done.
I want to write like that… but honestly, I don’t even know how. It feels as if the traditional character arc is embedded in my brain… which it may in fact be, the neuronal path having been well-worn by decades of reading and writing character arcs.
It’s almost as if I need an entirely new philosophy of drama… or, strictly speaking, any philosophy of drama at all. To date, I’ve primarily relied on my gut, adopting whichever style and techniques (philosophy put into practice) are appropriate for the subject matter I’m wrestling with.
I just don’t want my stories to be false. I treasure the truth—the real, material, natural truth—too highly.
But the relationship between stories and truth is complicated, I’m sure you’ll agree. It’s definitely a relationship I need to think about in a great deal more depth.