Jose F. Diaz's picture
Jose F. Diaz from Boston is reading Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel September 12, 2016 - 4:52pm

So, because I promised to deliver some information from my MFA, here is the very first piece....

In regards to Futurity, it is not "progress leads to utopia"; it is "progress vs utopia". Progress is a continuation of the reigning paradigm. Utopia is the abrupt cessation of that paradigm. Hence, we can talk about the future only in terms of a change in the current paradigm; we can never "show" what a utopia is, or what it will be because we, ourselves, belong to the wrong paradigm. We can only project forward a show the continuation of our known world based on our understanding, good or bad. 

 

Okay, have fun working through that wonderful morsel.

 

Daltonwriting's picture
Daltonwriting from Charlotte, NC is reading As many short story collections as I can get my hands on September 13, 2016 - 2:52pm

Thanks for posting. Look forward to reading more.

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal September 12, 2016 - 7:05pm

Is this like saying we can't possibly phathom what heaven is like because it's a type of existence we have no way of describing, let alone experiencing? 

bethwenn's picture
bethwenn from Milwaukee is reading The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann September 13, 2016 - 10:56am

Some woud also say utopia is impossible due to the fact that humanity is never uniform; any given utopia would be a dystopia for some. "Utopia for who?" is always a relevant question to ask. (I'm not a particularly big fan of Kuhn-ian idea of the ending, disconnected paradigms with no building block linkage to the previous paradigms. Too philosophically untenable  for me. It is fascinating though!)

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal September 13, 2016 - 12:28pm

Well the word Utopia in greek means literally "no place" so...

It's kind of like "perfect." There's no such thing in reality.

Jose F. Diaz's picture
Jose F. Diaz from Boston is reading Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel September 13, 2016 - 1:41pm

@ Thuggish: That was what Thomas Moore was getting at with his pun. Thank you for rooting for me.

@ Bethwenn: That was the first day, so this is the baseline to give us footing to delve further. I like thinking it's not possible because evolution isn't "finished" with us as species, so even if there were a Utopia, it too would cease to exist because it would need to be replaced based on what Utopia is to the Next. Perhaps we have seen Utopia, but we evolved out of it. Shed it like a snake skin.

Today: We look at the outcome oriented structure for endings in literature. Stories that use this structure are Bausch's "What Feels Like the World" and Kaufman's "Sunday in the Park." 

Pro: Stories allow plenty of tension to be created because the ending is narrowed down to one or two possibilities. Because the ending is known, it is not inherently interesting. 

Con: The ending can be too obvious, and writer can make the reader feel cheated/manipulated if they create a twist that wasn't really one of the possible endings. 

The stories are focused more on journey than where they end up. They are primarily character driven.

 

Okay, see you all next week with another round. buh-bye.

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal September 13, 2016 - 2:11pm

How is "it is not inherently interesting" a pro?

Jose F. Diaz's picture
Jose F. Diaz from Boston is reading Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel September 13, 2016 - 4:50pm

Because if you do your job right as a writer, Whether they succeed or fail is not the point of the story. It's one less thing to worry about. Read Bausch's work. You'll get it.

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal September 13, 2016 - 7:34pm

Why would you not want your reader to worry about things?

helpfulsnowman's picture
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helpfulsnowman from Colorado is reading But What If We're Wrong? by Chuck Klosterman September 13, 2016 - 9:03pm

I've seen instructors do this sometimes because it gets people out of the mode of thinking that endings must always be a surprise or that the biggest payoff to a story has to be the end. 

I think there's also a mode of reading that this plays into. Those people who read a mystery, skip to the end, and then watch how it all happens in the story, deriving joy from watching things fall into place. Personally, I think those people are sick and the worst society has to offer, but whatever floats their boat.

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal September 14, 2016 - 7:39am

well, i get that not every story has to end with the big twist surprise shazaam whatever... and i get that trying too hard to do that can ruin things. #mnightshalamawhatever but... but to make anything in a story not inherently interesting to the reader? 

Jose F. Diaz's picture
Jose F. Diaz from Boston is reading Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel September 14, 2016 - 9:01am

Okay, use the words not the most interesting aspect of the story instead of not inherenty interesting.

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal September 14, 2016 - 9:16am

Oh, well that changes everything!

It's like every Chuck book I can think of.

helpfulsnowman's picture
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helpfulsnowman from Colorado is reading But What If We're Wrong? by Chuck Klosterman September 14, 2016 - 11:20am

Haha. I can tell you from experience, knowing he was a ghost the whole time makes the movie a little boring.

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal September 14, 2016 - 2:20pm

... Fight Club?

 

helpfulsnowman's picture
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helpfulsnowman from Colorado is reading But What If We're Wrong? by Chuck Klosterman September 14, 2016 - 10:43pm

At least that's got some jokes in it.

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal September 15, 2016 - 7:30am

Which one was the ghost?

bethwenn's picture
bethwenn from Milwaukee is reading The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann September 15, 2016 - 8:39am

I think he means The Sixth Sense. Because you hashtagged M. Night Shyamalan.

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal September 15, 2016 - 8:49am

Oh well that makes sense. I'd moved on in my own mind when I said it reminds me of every Chuck book.

So my point was, in the opposite direction of M Night Shalamadingdong, the ending of Fight Club or Damned was almost inconsequential compared to the story. Like, it's about the journey, not the destination, kind of thing. Which lines up with Jose's thing. 

bethwenn's picture
bethwenn from Milwaukee is reading The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann September 15, 2016 - 3:00pm

Not really. The ending of Fight Club completely changes the tone of the rest of the story. People who ignore it tend to be the idiots who take all of Tyler Durden's advice and glorification of hyper-masculine violence as the point of the film. I don't think it qualifies as "not the most interesting" part of the story. I think Jose said he was talking about stories with simple endings that have a limited range of possibilities. e.g., Girl meets boy. Girl either gets boy or doesn't get boy.

Boy with dissociative identity disorder meets girl. Boy becomes involved in violent cult. Boy realizes he's the mentally deranged leader of the cult and tries to sabotage his own terrorist master plan. <- To me, that ending doesn't seem to be stemming from a limited range of obvious possibities.

Jose F. Diaz's picture
Jose F. Diaz from Boston is reading Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel September 15, 2016 - 3:09pm

@ bethwenn: Bingo!

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal September 15, 2016 - 4:11pm

Eh, I see your point, but I found the journey and exploration of modern society vs. our animal tendencies, of modern behavioral expectations vs. masculinity, etc., that contrast and arc from one to the other... to be more interesting than blowing up the buildings. Or confronting his alter-ego and shooting his jaw out, even. Especially considering he didn't actually stop his alter ego's plan.

I think maybe you're thinking of the shallow thinking morons who saw the movie and concluded duuurrrrr, cool, let'th sthart a fight club! 

Unless, maybe, you consider the realization that he is, in fact, Tyler Durden, part of the ending? I wouldn't call that the end, more like the end of act 2, but if I did, I'd change my answer.

Damned is an even better example, though. Chapter to chapter, I just loved what was happening, the ending was mostly a "damn, now there's no more" moment for me.

Jose F. Diaz's picture
Jose F. Diaz from Boston is reading Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel September 15, 2016 - 7:36pm

Hijack. Move along...

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal September 16, 2016 - 4:15am

Well, I don't know that we're hijacked quite yet. We're still on the "outcome oriented" subject, maybe you, the origin of said subject, can keep us on said subject more clearly? (Would you consider Fight Club and Damned outcome oriented? Why/why not?)

bethwenn's picture
bethwenn from Milwaukee is reading The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann September 16, 2016 - 8:27am

I'm not getting involved...

Back on the subject: In one of my other classes, we talked about some other basic types of endings. This is what I have in my notebook.

• TYPES OF ENDINGS
Explicit Ending: takes everything and resolves it; no loose ends
Implicit Ending: leaves things up to the reader (“Did they survive?”)
Twist Ending: shock, reversal (De Maupassant's "The Necklace")
Tie-back Ending: often found in detective mysteries; shows clues from the beginning and reveals their significance
Cliffhanger Ending: Common in serials/episodic stories.
Longview Ending: The end of the story peers ahead. (“X went on to become etc…”)
Zero Degree Ending: peters out; no climax, no resolution, no tie-back (Chekov's "The Lady With the Toy Dog")
Climax Ending: gets to the point of maximum conflict and then stops
Face Ending: Changes to another character’s point of view
Detail Ending: ends the story with a symbol or some detail
Scenic Ending: A type of detail ending; ends the story with a scenic metaphor

Jose F. Diaz's picture
Jose F. Diaz from Boston is reading Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel September 16, 2016 - 8:00am

Awesome, thanks bethwenn.

Fight Club and Damned were not outcome oriented. The endings were not obvious. The endings were necessary to make sense of other aspects of the story. And don't mix shape of a story, i.e. the circular shaped story, for an outcome oriented story. 

The Rocky films are outcome oriented. We knew there was going to be a fight, we knew that he would win or lose. It's still important what happens, just not that it is a shock it happened.

Political campaign movies are outcome oriented. We know X and Y are running for office, either X or Y, or Neither, or Both, will win. So, now that we know were we will end, I as the reader no longer need to wonder about that. I can focus on the character development.

And now we move on....

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal September 16, 2016 - 8:43am

The Rocky films are outcome oriented. We knew there was going to be a fight, we knew that he would win or lose. It's still important what happens, just not that it is a shock it happened

Ohhhh, gotcha. But that makes me disagree that the ending is necessarily less interesting. If you're leading up to that ending for the entire book/movie/whatever, you're (potentially) really invested in the outcome.

Jose F. Diaz's picture
Jose F. Diaz from Boston is reading Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel September 16, 2016 - 11:08am

You're going to have to think your way through this problem and why it isn't right. I'm not handing you the answer. But I will give you a hint: In Rocky I, Balboa loses at the end, but we still feel like he was a winner. Why?

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal September 16, 2016 - 1:10pm

Yeah, I'm not going to do that, but feel free to tell me where my "argument" is wrong whenever you like.

It's been a loooong time, but Rocky comes out like a "winner" because he achieved something, yeah?

helpfulsnowman's picture
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helpfulsnowman from Colorado is reading But What If We're Wrong? by Chuck Klosterman September 16, 2016 - 6:27pm

Because he went the distance! 

I think there's an argument to be made, whether the question driving Rocky's plot is

Will Rocky win the fight?

or

Will Rocky succeed in going the distance?

BUT, those are both close-ended questions with finite answers, which seem to result in outcome-oriented endings.

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal September 16, 2016 - 8:16pm

How about Pirates of the Caribbean? Will he get the Black Pearl back or won't he is the outcome-oriented ending? Does that work? 

 

Jose F. Diaz's picture
Jose F. Diaz from Boston is reading Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel September 16, 2016 - 8:45pm

No. 

It isn't whether Rocky will go the distance. It's whether the story line has built him up enough that whether he wins or loses, he still comes off as a winner.

Does the Pirates of the Caribbean movie allow for multiple outcomes outside of that dealing with the Black Pearl? Yes, therefore it is not an outcome oriented ending. There could have been multiple ways that could have resolved. You have Jack's story arc, but he is not the protagonist. He's the quircky side kick. 

Keep working at it. 

bethwenn's picture
bethwenn from Milwaukee is reading The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann September 17, 2016 - 5:00am

I think you can kind of feel it when you're watching/reading one. The story feels like it can only go in certain places. Romantic comedies especially. You know the couple ends up together, but people watch those to see how it happens. Will they end up together? Will he win the fight? Will the killer be caught? I was just watching The 'Burbs a few days ago. There are rules of closure in stories like that. In order to get closure, we need the crazy killer neighbors to be caught and brought to justice. Either it turns out that they are crazy axe-murderers and Tom Hanks and his neighbor friends are vigilante heroes who will bring them to justice, or they're not and Tom Hanks and his neighbor friends are a bunch of prejudiced assholes who will learn a moral lesson. You know the whole movie, just according to genre format, that they are going to be killers and they will be caught. If they're not, it will be revealed in a hilarious way. Even though the outcome isn't surprising, the fun part is watching it unfold.

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal September 17, 2016 - 5:56am

^ Romcoms... and mysteries...

EDIT: maybe not, depending on the mystery. a game of clue could have so many answers, perhaps not.

bethwenn's picture
bethwenn from Milwaukee is reading The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann September 17, 2016 - 3:09pm

At this point, I don't know how many more times it can be re-explained. It's not genre specific, but it happens more often in some genres in film, especially with the production code that old Hollywood movies adhere to (up until mid/late 60's or so) which specifies that if certain things happen in a film, the film has to resolve them in a particular way (e.g., if characters behave immorally, they either have to be punished or learn a moral lesson).

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal September 17, 2016 - 8:52pm

Perhaps instead of re-explaning we should try to more thoroughly explain? 

I think maybe Disney cartoons or fairy tales might be the best example...

helpfulsnowman's picture
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helpfulsnowman from Colorado is reading But What If We're Wrong? by Chuck Klosterman September 17, 2016 - 9:46pm

It isn't whether Rocky will go the distance. It's whether the story line has built him up enough that whether he wins or loses, he still comes off as a winner.

Hmm. I hadn't thought of that. Is that really the question the movie asks or the challenge for the writer? 

Anyway, this reminded me of something a writing teacher told me once. He said that if you wanted to tell the story of the time your Christmas tree burned down, you would start with, "Did I ever tell you about the time my Christmas tree burned down?" A listener/reader would then hear the story, which might go something like, "I'm in my living room, on the phone, and I start smelling something. I thought it was my breath at first, or something in the phone, and I went and brushed my teeth, and then it got worse..."

When the reader knows the ending of the story (the Christmas tree burned down), they can revel in the small details and enjoy the discovery. It's still got tension because while this person is bumbling around, the reader knows the damn tree is on fire.

Jose F. Diaz's picture
Jose F. Diaz from Boston is reading Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel September 17, 2016 - 10:01pm

@ helpfulsnowman: Bingo.

@ thuggish: No. Your two seconds are over. Moving on.

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal September 17, 2016 - 10:06pm

When the reader knows the ending of the story (the Christmas tree burned down), they can revel in the small details and enjoy the discovery. 

Well shit, that makes sense.

Jose F. Diaz's picture
Jose F. Diaz from Boston is reading Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel September 21, 2016 - 8:48pm

Unfortunately for anyone involved with this thread, the information in my classes is moving at an incredible pace. Hence, what I thought would be a fun, cool thread is untenable for me. It requires a level of knowledge that I thought would be pretty simple for me to explain. It is not. Not even close. 

I'm sorry. 

Literary theory and craft is daunting.

Maybe later I will compile my knowledge and put it out there, but truthfully, I WOULD hold my breath. I'd just like to know what passing out feels like. 

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal September 21, 2016 - 9:02pm

You have to have someone press on your chest when the [whatever it's called mechanism thing] overrides your breath holding in order to pass out.

Or have someone apply a blood choke.