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Monday, November 05, 2007

Jerry's Story

On public radio's program Fresh Air a few days ago, I heard Jerry Seinfeld being interviewed before the release of his animated Bee Movie. He said the hardest part of making the movie was dealing with the story. In stand-up comedy, he said, you just get to tell the good parts. In a movie, you have to take a reader from bit to bit in a way that makes sense.

He also said that he had trouble with the ending. He had been operating under the notion that you get to the end, you have a big climax, everything's resolved, that's it. But Steven Spielberg set him straight. Spielberg told him the ending had to "be funnier"--because it had to be consistent with the rest of the story.

Moral of the story: Don't go switching tone on your reader abruptly. I'm not gonna say never do it--it's possible to take a reader to every emotion in the spectrum in a longer work--but the whole has to feel, well, whole, that everything in there is part of the same cloth, not bits and pieces sewn together with a little schtick.


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