Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Another Dimension

It's difficult to finish writing projects when you've got so many ideas in your head and what feels like not enough time to get them down on paper. But, as always, if they really matter to you, you'll find a way, so I keep on plugging away at these stories in my mind, hoping that one they'll all see fruition. And, surveying those stories, I've come to realize something that should have been apparent to me earlier: The Twilight Zone may be my greatest source of inspiration. Aside from family, friends, and life, that is.

I'm certain that countless fiction writers have taken their cue from this series, and I know for a fact that more words have been written on its impact than I could read in a year, but having grown up on the show and having been turned on to great writers like Richard Matheson because of it, I have to say something about it. Sure, it was great because, thinly-veiled though they may have been, its episodes were allegories, and not just diverting shock pieces. Sure, it showcased a genre of television that too often gets overlooked; two genres, in fact, if you consider the nearly defunct anthology format a genre.

But when I sit down to write a story and realize that there's a little bid of Rod Serling's voice in the narration, it's also because The Twilight Zone had a playfulness to the storytelling. There was always a sense that the writer wasn't going to show his cards until the last second, and even if the so-called "surprise" ending was reasonably predictable, the storyteller had enough control over his material to make the payoff put a grin on your face, if not a dropped jaw.

I can't say I specifically aim for that effect, but when I feel as though one of my stories will achieve it, I feel that spark to write grow just a little brighter. So many writers, directors, and artists in general seem to create work entirely for themselves, and while that's not the worst way to go about creating something -- it sure beats using a focus group to dictate your work -- there's something to be said for thinking about your audience during the process. Every great episode of The Twilight Zone (and there are so many) feels like it was created with the audience in mind.

The results speak for themselves.

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