Saturday, May 22, 2010

Episodic stories

My favorite TV shows are enhanced by sharing with people who love them [almost] as much as I. With Mom over the phone, with friends at work. Heroes was that much better for the Tuesday Heroes review lunches at work. We shared our favorite details, theories, I shared the scoop on the graphic novel backstories - alas, no more :(.

This is also enhanced by getting the story in bits & bites. It gives you enough to talk about but not so much that details are forgotten in favor of the overall gist.

I'm noticing the importance of this as I participate in #1b1t (One Book, One Twitter) - a twitter-wide bookclub started by @Crowdsourcing. We are reading Neil Gaiman's American Gods - there's a reading schedule that the general conversation (using the hashtag #1b1t) follows. Chapter-level discussions allow those who are reading faster to still talk about details without spoiling for others (hashtags #1b1t_1c, _2c, etc).
Because of this setup, I find myself pausing after I finish each chapter to spend some time in the discussion for that chapter, before moving on.

I've been in a bookclub before, where we'd read a book over a month (or a couple of months) and discuss it when everyone had completed the whole book. I'm afraid I wasn't a great bookclub member. When I read a book straight through, I'm finding that what I get from it is mostly gist of plot. I focus on language and tone and style of storytelling, rather than absorbing details about characters, placenames, and whatnot. (I also tended to take a much more critical view than others - sorry I just don't find Mitch Albom's style compelling)

In an episodic construct, however, the Heroes fan comes to the fore. I'm tracking conversations, doing a bit of research on my own, keeping threads at hand for when the story weaves them back in. Part of this could be that it's my second time through the book, but I really think it's the way #1b1t is running. The book is striking home more.

And it follows me around, so that I look at things through the lens of the book's premise of the gods we bring with us from our countries of origin - and what happens when those beliefs and traditions are left by the wayside.

It's those bits & bobs - the bite size story consumption rather than a massive binge. Hmmmm - Twitter-style storytelling (like the stories told by @AngelaShelton a few weeks ago to showcase abuse) is a bit like this - although it needs a bit more structure to accommodate varied paces and thread conversations a bit more clearly. Potential, potential.

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