‘Tis true: I have messed about a bit with narrative over my career as a playwright. My best known play follows the sonata allegro form. I have written fugues, concertos and duets as well. Beyond musical inspirations, I have made plays in the shape of a clock, a single day passing, and a palindrome. And even when I’m wrighting the “well made” play— putting all my plot peaks and valleys at the proper places on the x-axis of time, like with my farce Gossamer Grudges— I still lean heavily on the lessons I’ve learned playing faster and looser with the Aristotelian rules of story-telling. That’s why I so enjoy the rare opportunities I get to teach my Hugo House class, Exploring Alternative Narrative Structure.
From Hugo House’s class description:
Aristotle said a story should have a beginning, middle and end, in that order; but how often does life really feel like that? Sometimes to reflect reality we have to challenge old assumptions about how we experience and process narrative. We will explore alternative structures to Aristotle’s cherished mountain of rising action, looking at classical music forms, technology, architecture, political systems and biology for potential models. Indeed, no source of inspiration will be excluded. Famous examples of effective use of alternative narrative form will be examined, including Pinter’s Betrayal, Thorton Wilder’s “The Pullman Car Hiawatha,” Italo Calvino’s novels and Paul Mullin’s Louis Slotin Sonata. Finally, we’ll examine our current writing projects and determine how they might benefit from some structural shake-ups.
Whether you craft short stories, novels, graphic novels, plays or screenplays, if your writing involves narrative, in can help to push the envelope of alternatives.
Come join the fun! I have spaces left in the class, so click on this link for more info on the class and how to register: https://hugohouse.org/class/exploring-alternative-narrative-structure .