To the Point

I am not a fan of decompressed storytelling.  It’s part of the reason I could never get into shows like Lost or 24.  The way these shows take a single story idea and stretch it out over a season just doesn’t appeal to me.  It’s not a judgment on the quality of these shows because, honestly, I didn’t watch them and have no reason to suspect that they’re bad.  Just not my bag.  It’s the same reason I don’t generally like long movies, and why I’m not much of a comic book fan anymore.

It’s probably why I haven’t written sequels yet and why my books tend to be short.  I might have a long story in me, but I haven’t found it yet.  And the tendency of fantasy now is to write long novels with overarching plots means I don’t read much of it either.  I’m more of a too-the-point kind of guy, and that can be a good or a bad thing, depending on how you look at it.

There are exceptions, one or two long stories that I’ve enjoyed.  Justice League Unlimited: Season One is The Greatest Thing That Has Ever Been On Television.  Ever.  And a big part of that is the fact that it has an overarching plot executed masterfully.  The execution is what matters though.  The thing I love about JLU: S1 is that you don’t really know it’s an overarching story until near the middle of the season.  Until then, you mostly get to enjoy a few standalone episodes with a few recurring plot threads.  Even when the arc gets going, you still can enjoy nearly all of the episodes on their own.  Seeing how they connect adds a whole new level to the season, but even on an episode by episode basis, the show really fires on all cylinders.

I’ll admit that maybe this is some failing on my part.  Maybe I’m just not “mature” or “patient” enough to wait around for the payoff.  But, hey, I’m an important guy.  I have a lot of stuff to do.

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  1. Amie
    Posted October 6, 2010 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    that’s one of the reasons I love Buffy so much. Most of the episodes are enjoyable as stand alones even though each season has an overarching plot.

    • A. Lee Martinez
      Posted October 6, 2010 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

      Yes, Buffy is a good example. The later seasons are inevitably more continuity heavy, and that’s their biggest weakness.

      Strangely, I feel that this is Joss Whedon’s biggest problem at this point. He’s lost the ability to craft great standalone episodes and is instead obsessed with the arc. The results are shows that continue to fail to hook the audience (all except those hardcore fans who will forgive Whedon anything) and stumble and fall.

    • Posted October 6, 2010 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

      Right on Amie. Another show on TV that does that is Supernatural. The first few episodes, and the last few episodes are connected, and everything in between is just stand alone awesome. BTW this entire season deals with monsters, so its got that going for it.

      The writing of A. Lee Martinez has ruined books for me (in a great way). I often get a non-fiction book from the library and after I realize that I’m just reading 10 pages of description rather then 10 pages of storytelling: I swiftly return it and with a groan and a blah. I leave thinking to myself, if this had been an A. Lee Martinez book a Yeti, or a Zombie (and soon to be space squid beast?) would have at least shown up and done something cool.

  2. Posted October 7, 2010 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

    I think there’s something to be said for the ‘serialized’ story.

    I like short, to the point stories that have some sense of continuity to them, even if it’s only the main/primary characters.

    Consider that some of the best stories of days gone by were done in that style. Sherlock Holmes, Even the ‘Conan’ stories were usually stand alone capable, with little to no dependence on previous or future stories. There were always the few references, but none that absolutely required “going back” to read previous books.

    I have often thought that the main characters from your “All Fright Diner” would fit well into such a serialized line of stories.

    maybe it’s just me though.

    T Sandoval

  3. tam
    Posted October 7, 2010 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

    I’m assuming The Way of Kings isn’t on your Goodreads to-read shelf. 🙂

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