An Hour, A Day, A Lifetime

The Use of Time to Create Tension

Tension is wound into time. I could come up with some sort of watch metaphor here but most people don’t even wear watches (especially the kind you wind) anymore so let’s just jump right into it. Tension drives conflict in fiction, and conflict is necessary for a good story. Utilizing time to build tension is a good storytelling technique. Kate Chopin and Ernest Hemingway incorporate time into “The Story of an Hour” and “A Day’s Wait” to build tension that drives their respective plots forward.

Complete Novels and Stories by Kate Chopin

The titles of these short stories (and I mean short-added together they aren’t seven pages) establish specific time frames in which the stories take place. These time frames, an hour and a day, create a limited amount of time for the action of the story to unfold which adds to the tension. These timeframes also show us how an hour or a day can feel like a lifetime depending on the conflict the character faces. Both stories build subtle tension toward their dramatic reveals. Both Chopin and Hemingway use time to build that tension which in turn makes the stories’ climaxes all the more powerful.

The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway

Using time to build tension is an effective storytelling technique. Kate Chopin and Ernest Hemingway use this technique in “The Story of An Hour” and “A Day’s Wait” to drive the plots forward and develop powerful climaxes. I don’t want to spoil the stories for you, I’ll just say that both are worth a read (or should I say worth your time, yep I just had to add that).

-K-

“The Story of An Hour” from Complete Novels and Stories by Kate Chopin

“A Day’s Wait” from The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway by Ernest Hemingway

Some Thoughts on Time

More than Numbers on a Clock

March has rolled around again. Some consider it foreshadowing for spring (there’s that old saying about lions and lambs). Others look forward to St. Patrick’s Day with all its green beer glory. March means another birthday for me. I’ve never put much thought into birthdays, but there have been a few happenings of late that have me thinking about the passage of time.

“Clock Face”

How do we mark the passage of time? Is it marked by the number of drinks and smokes we put down in one sitting (I’ve put in some time tonight)? Is it marked by how much effort we put into planning? Is it marked by how long we wait for just the right moment to occur before we act? Is it marked by journal entries and social media posts? Is time marked by what we gain in life or by what we lose (maybe both)?

I’ve got a birthday coming up, and recent events have me thinking about time. This month I’m going look into the idea of time and try to gain a little perspective on the topic. I’d like to hear what you think about time and how we mark its passing.

-K-

The End of Relationships

and The End of a Relationship

That sounds redundant but there is a point here. Valentine’s Day was the impetus for this month’s topic. I hope you managed to get through, around, under, or over that special day. I’ve written about a variety of relationships this month and cited songs, books, and movies in the process. So I’ve decided to wrap up February with the end of a relationship.

“She Put Him Out”

Art may imitate life but seeing a relationship end (and end badly) in front of you is unlike any song or movie. Writers may capture the emotion of a moment but it is never as raw as real life. Last summer I was out for a stroll when I wandered into what can best be described as the end of a relationship. I won’t attempt to describe the emotions that were involved (there was a lot of screaming, crying, and threats). It was like a bad accident I couldn’t turn away from. I’ve been in some relationships that ended poorly but nothing like this. We can listen to songs, read books, and watch movies but real life is raw and unscripted. Sometimes the jolt of real life unfolding around us serves as a reminder of how fragile relationships can be.

So here we are on the last day of February about to wrap up the topic of relationships. I feel it is fitting to end the month with a relationship the ended poorly because it is important to remember that we need to put in the effort and time that is neccessary to make a relationship work. Songs, books, and movies provide comfort and advice but they can’t do the work for us.

-K-

Kevin Smith’s Relationship Advice

Chasing Amy as Romance for Realists

This post isn’t about Clerks. Someday there will be a post about Kevin Smith’s Clerks but today is not that day, but if I didn’t watch Clerks then I probably wouldn’t have sought out Chasing Amy. February is drawing to a close this week so now is the time to have a brief discussion about Chasing Amy, the first ‘relationship’ movie I saw that I could really identify with (although there is some interesting relationship advice in Clerks worth discussing at a later date). Some elements of Smith’s 1997 movie may be a bit dated but the core message of the movie holds true today and is worth a viewing.

Chasing Amy 2
Chasing Amy

Much like Clerks which has the ability to speak to those of us who have worked in retail Chasing Amy speaks to those of us who have been in complicated relationships (complicated is a cliché word but using a word like problematic is putting a dime word in a penny sentence). You don’t need to be in the same romantic relationship as Ben Affleck’s Holden McNeil to empathize with his situation. If you have ever allowed friends, or those who call themselves friends, to guide your relationship decisions then you can relate to Chasing Amy. If you have ever allowed preconceived notions and feelings of inadequacy whisper in your ear then you can relate to Chasing Amy. If you never allowed these things to sway your relationship decisions then this movie can give you an idea of how the rest of us muddle through life love.

Chasing Amy is a realistic portrayal of two people trying to work through their issues and develop a meaningful relationship. It is a movie that speaks to any of us who have struggled with similar issues. The movie may have some 90s vibes in it but Smith’s story is still relevant and worth a view.

-K-

Chasing Amy (1997) with Ben Affleck, Joey Lauren Adams, and Jason Lee. Written and directed by Kevin Smith.

Authors on Relationships

Six Bits of Wisdom on Relationships

• “I measured love by the extent of my jealousy.” -Graham Greene-

• “Why did God make women so beautiful and man with such a loving heart?” -Walker Percy-

• “Kiss me, and you will see how important I am.” -Sylvia Plath

Minolta DSC
“The Start of Something”

• “The most painful thing is losing yourself in the process of loving someone too much, and forgetting that you are special too.” -Ernest Hemingway-

• “I know I am but summer to your heart, and not the full four seasons of the year.” -Edna St. Vincent Milay-

• “It’s no good pretending any relationship has a future if your record collections disagree violently or if your favorite films wouldn’t even speak to each other if they met at a party.” -Nick Hornby-

-K-

Valentine’s Day Wishes

What Did You Wish For Today?

A day dedicated to relationships gives us cause to reflect (whether we want to or not). Today is a day we reflect on past relationships, evaluate current relationships, and ponder the viability of future relationships. Today is also a day bound up with wishes.

I Wish (P60-edit)
“I Wish”

We can’t help but wish for a thing or two on a day like today (we may not want to admit it, but we do). We may wish that a past relationship went in a different direction or maybe could be erased from history. Maybe we wish a current relationship could be something different (today is an awful day to be “just friends” with somebody). Finally, we may wish we could shake that Magic 8 Ball and see what our current relationship status will be with that special someone.

Valentine’s may be a day of chocolates, roses, and fancy dinners but it is also a day of wishes. Wishes are not bad things, but like most things they can be dangerous. Work toward fulfilling your wishes, but don’t let those wishes become your master.

-K-