Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Ever notice how in stories people/places/events/dialogue/situations etc. get cycled? It's part of storytelling--to make everything count, or to use symbolism, irony, or even turn something small into the last straw on the camel's back.

For an example--I saw an action movie the awhile back (for the first time, I might add, so I was paying sharp attention to everything). The way things were cycled in that movie really stood out to me. How the little conversation at the beginning about scrunching your toes barefoot in the carpet to get over jet lag ended up leaving the protag without his shoes throughout most of the movie (which became painful when he had to run through broken glass). Early on the movie shows that the protag's wife was awarded with a fancy Rolex watch--at the end of the movie she's dangling half-way out a window with the antagonist pulling on her and the only way to free her is to get rid of the same watch. How a conversation between the protag and a cop about why the cop doesn't like to actually fire his gun at anybody has more meaning when the cop gets one of the bad guys at the end. There were lots of these kinds of examples, just in this one movie.

It makes you think. How do even the little things matter in your story? How necessary are things? Are you using your story elements to their utmost potential? Not that everything has to become important, or repeated. There are ways of overdoing cycling--even cheesy ways (think C3PO's one-liners from movies 4-6 being brought back in movies 1-3).

So to get this discussion going--what are your thoughts on cycling? Can you think of a story (either book or movie) where this works? What are some examples of things that don't work?

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