Life is badly edited

We’ve all had the misfortune to sit through a “director’s cut” of a film, where a self-indulgent egotist, in love with every frame, bores us to tears with the extra half-hour bloat that escaped the scissors. Yes, lots of us saw Avatar.

Real life is, however, worse. Our unfolding biographies have too many story threads, characters who come and go, motives mysterious and chapters that galumph on and on. No neat endings. Chekhov’s gun unfired. Pointless dialog. Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy.

It’s a mark of maturity, we believe, to recognize this, to admit that life is messy, and to remain steady in the face of chaos. It’s also incumbent on us as storytellers to recognize the need to be the opposite: coherent, clear, crisp.

Comments 3

  1. Ah, the director’s cut of “Avatar.” What sweet memories that one brings back. I barely recall the actual brain surgery taking place while I slipped into a coma, but when I regained consciousness, I discovered my ability to speak Norwegian had been replaced by an uncontrollable desire to emulate Natalie Portman’s character in “Black Swan.” Incredibly, I discovered the need for a 52-year-old man performing in “Swan Lake” wasn’t nearly as viable as I’d hoped. Ah, well, tomorrow is another day.

  2. I enjoyed Avatar – saw the 3-D, non-directors cut version.
    I paid some $ for entertainment and received an acceptable slice of just that.
    Isn’t that what movies are for?

    On the other hand, I appreciate the value of good editing!

    “Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all sentences short, or avoid all detail and treat subjects only in outline, but that every word tell.”
    Strunk & White, “The Elements of Style”

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