A dramatic need/urgency

Re-reading a book of Writer Balakumaran, after 6-7 years set me thinking for the quintessential dramatic need at the end of every story. While dramatic need is a concept often talked about during the script writing stages of a movie-making, it plays a vital role in usually completing the story that had started.

Just like screen-writing, even the books have three distinct stages viz., the start, conflict and the end. Towards the end, most writers seem to hurry in sneaking a dramatic need and completing the story. This could either be due to the lack of space/time and other undocumented reasons. One other reason could be that the writer probably has already started work on his next project and wants to rush through the current one.

Anbulla Appa, a short novel of Balakumaran which was out during the late 90s did impress me at that time due to the philosophical values it hinted. Was discussing this with some friends a few days back and it prompted me to go back and re-read it. Reading a same book after few years is a wonderful feeling. At a sub-conscious level it scales your mental growth.

Coming back, Anbulla Appa talks about a teenager who due to his family compulsions is set to be sold for adoption. What follows is how he wades through these tough days to grasp the meaning of relationships. While the book itself is very philosophical, at the fag-end it stuck me that the writer rushed through the final parts just to complete the story. This is exactly where the dramatic need of the story gets transformed to a dramatic super-urgency. All the time, during the book, he was relaxed in preaching philosophy and just at the point of climax, speeded through. A similar quick-end also came to his recent book, Yezhaavathu Kaathal.

If this is in a case of a movie, I agree to the rational behind it. Making the movie climax at appropriate length is an art and its a tightrope walk. But a book can always accommodate two more extra pages to give completeness to the story. A movie watcher is tad different from a book reader. A book reader, presumably spends more time than in reading a decent sized novel and the most important distinction is that he reads it alone. Unlike movies which are watched mostly alongwith public. So the bond that the writer strikes with the reader is much better than a movie director. He can use this liberty to his favor. At times at the end of the book, I feel a let down. A let down just because the writer rushed through the final stuff.

Balakumaran is just used here as a reference. All or most of the writers have at some point of their writing career have done this. Now the question I am pondering over is that, if I am the odd one noticing stuff like this or are there other takers with better explanations ?

7 thoughts on “A dramatic need/urgency

  1. Guru, I have felt that too, many times. But I have actually enjoyed that rush flow of the story. I dont suppose Novelists sit thro their novel at one go. The flow & narration keeps happening naturally & suddenly when they decide on a proper kind of dramatic ending, they want it pen it asap lest the spontanity is lost.This I feel is a major reason for a seemingly quicker finishing chapters.

  2. I have seen this happen more often with serialised stories. The effort put into the sustenance of narrative energy seems to be absent in the resolution stage. You just might be on target when you point the finger at time/space or even money constraints as being the real culprit. It is rarely due to the (perceived, poor) skill of the writer.

  3. I feel that it should be highly dependent on the type of story. Maybe for feel good stories, it can be stretched. Whereas for tragic endings wont it be better if the writer rushes through?

  4. Anand – You are right in saying that this happens during serialised stories. I have heard writers saying that they are used to write multiple stories at same time leading to his issue also.

    Latha – You are writer’s reader. You do have the energy to accept what the writer has delivered without qualms. And you too are right with the spontaneity.

    Prabhu, Now I know why you are romantic macha 😉

  5. i agree with anand. it happens in serialised stories.

    it is amazing how commerce influenced works of art all the time. when we think of writers we usually imagine their idealistic part. (like, keats who i heard wrote a poem – ode to nightingale, if i remember – when he was at a friends place and left it there, just like that).

    but, have you ever wondered why some of the classics read better in abrdiged versions? its because some novelists, at that time, were paid for the number of words. and so to make money they wrote a lot. of course, readers also had more time, but the prime reason was money…

  6. Hi!
    Please read “Oru manidhan, Oru Veedu , Oru ulagam” by Jayakaanthan. The ending of that novel is one of the very diferent endings. In fact it raises a question, “Why should any novel have an ending?” . I personally feel that novels should never have ending for the sake of it. Another interesting ending in a JK novel is “Oru manidhanum sila erumai maadugalum”.

    Thanks,
    Jaiganesh

  7. I have also felt the same way in many cases.I think it is because most of the writers think the crux of the story first and try to put a start and end to it.Maybe an intresting incident made them write a story.With that sprak they try to write a naovel with more importance on that one idea and trying to end it somehow.

    Talking about endings.See the movie “Cherry tree”. the movie does not have an ending as such.The director abbas kiarostami said he does not want to put one ending to the movie, so he left it to the audience to choose his own ending.

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