Sometimes I feel like storytelling has gotten too complicated for its own good. I wonder how many writers have felt pressured to break new ground in their chosen genre, or how many would-be writers never put pen to page because they worry that their ideas aren’t “fresh” enough. Aiming high is good, that’s how progress is made. Yet I find myself slightly disappointed by some of what I read and watch because the stories don’t fully ascend to the apogee of their aspirations. The film version of The Fountain comes to mind. So does Sucker Punch. These aren’t bad stories per se, they just fall a little short of the inherent promise made to us by the tellers: “This one is different. This one is more.”
There’s a reason why fiction can be broken down into familiar structures taught to students young enough to struggle with cursive handwriting. Those structures may seem tired but they just work, and if one understands them well enough it becomes unnecessary to try to break free from them. Snowpiercer is a wonderful example of what happens when a writer doesn’t try to get fancy with format and just lets the story tell itself.
(Warning: this entry and its comments contain spoilers.)