saw this great Martin Scorsese flick back when it came out in 1985. Funny story – my best friend’s mom and her daughter went to the art-flic house to see it and were totally confused. Why was this male dating-from-hell movie funny? The next night they took us to see it. We laughed uproariously all the way through it. They looked at us like it was some sort of elaborate joke.
If you are a man, see it and think of your own dating disasters. If you are a woman, ask your man to explain it. Or stick with Outlander.
But the point of this blog is writing and storytelling, and let’s get to that point. I started watching this again with a friend in the hospital the other night. Looking at it with my critical 30-years-after eyes, I have to admit that it was still a wonderful movie. The thing is, from a storytelling viewpoint, it’s great. There is a lot of backstory you are left to ponder. The cook in the all-night dinner – what was his relationship with Marcie (with all the thrown and caught kisses)? What is it with Marcie’s burns, her cream, her book? What is her relationship with Greg, who is Franklin, and how does Kiki (with her plaster-of-Paris bagels) in any way connected to Julie (part-time waitress, part-time copy clerk, 60’s retro throwback)? Just like Paul, we are thrown into this strange district of Soho, seeing each street, watching the hours slip past as Paul goes from one strange event to another, with Neil and Pepe rattling around in their van in the background.
It reminds me of another great movie, Run Lola Run, where we learn every aspect of a small area around a Berlin bank in three different timelines.
The point is that this is great storytelling. Like a real person, we don’t know all the backstories. It is evident they exist – there are hints and innuendos. Often, in storytelling, we feel a need to explain how everything works, to step back from the story to tell why there are no phones in a house, or why every tree in a plantation has been cut down, or why a character has a limp. But as a writer, to give your readers something to ponder as they read, don’t explain it, not just yet. Let them wonder why trains don’t blow their whistles while passing through a town or why society is falling apart. Give them hints and maybe, later, a reveal. But no, you should set up your world with depth and peal the layers slowly!
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